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  • HBO and WarnerMedia just launched a new streaming service — HBO Max.
  • HBO already operates two major streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now.
  • So, what’s the difference between the three different streaming services? A surprising amount of stuff — let’s dig in!
  • See more: The best streaming services you can sign up for online

First, the bad news: “Friends” has left Netflix, and it’s not coming back any time soon.

Turns out there’s a good reason for that — it has a new home with HBO’s new streaming service alongside “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Rick and Morty,” and a mess of other stuff. That new service is named HBO Max, and it’s intended to serve as a deluxe version of HBO’s already existing streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now.

But what’s so different about HBO Max from HBO’s current streaming options? Well, it mostly comes down to content selection and how you pay for each platform. It’s also important to note that while all three services still currently exist, HBO Max is essentially being positioned as a replacement for HBO Go and HBO Now. In many cases, current HBO Go and HBO Now subscribers can even receive an automatic upgrade to HBO Max at no extra cost.

To help further dispel some of the confusion surrounding all three services, we’ve broken down all of the key differences below.

“Friends” is one marquee legacy TV series that’s headed to HBO Max when it arrives in 2020.

HBO Max is effectively a replacement for HBO Now — a standalone streaming service you don’t need a cable subscription to use. Both services are the same price too, $14.99 per month.

HBO Max includes all of HBO’s standard offerings, plus a ton of new stuff from various WarnerMedia properties, like DC Comics, CNN, TNT, TBS, and Cartoon Network. In case you’re unfamiliar, WarnerMedia is just the new name for “Time Warner” — which is to say that a ton of classic movies and shows are available on HBO Max.

Like Netflix, HBO Max will also produce original TV shows and movies.

In many cases, current HBO Now subscribers will receive an automatic upgrade to HBO Max. You can check the HBO Max website to see if your subscription is eligible for an upgrade. AT&T cable subscribers who pay for HBO on TV are also eligible for a free year of HBO Max.

What makes HBO Max different from HBO Now and HBO Go? Additional content.

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is another major legacy TV show that will be available on HBO Max.

With HBO Go and HBO Now, the library of content is limited to HBO’s original TV shows and rotating selection of movies. But with HBO Max, you’ll get all that content plus a ton of new stuff from a variety of WarnerMedia brands.

HBO Max launched with more than 1,300 movies and over 10,000 hours worth of programming, including everything that’s already available on HBO Now and HBO Go.

Notably, however, this isn’t a live TV service — you’ll get on-demand access to a library of content from those places, but won’t be able to, say, watch CNN live on HBO Max.

“The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo” is an original series coming to HBO Max alongside HBO classics like “The Wire” and “Game of Thrones.”

Adding Adult Swim’s content to HBO Max means adding “Rick & Morty.” Adding CNN’s content to HBO Max means adding “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” Adding TBS’ content to HBO Max means adding “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” and “Conan.” 

All of which is to say that adding content from all these places adds up to a ton of really good stuff.

Looney Tunes cartoons! All the “Lord of the Rings” movies! There’s a surprising amount of additional content in the HBO Max package.

HBO Max’s lineup also features new original series, including “Love Life,” a comedy show starring Anna Kendrick, and “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” a new animated series featuring Bugs Bunny and company. 

Beyond original HBO programs, the HBO Max catalog will feature a wide range of TV series, including “Friends,” “Rick and Morty,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sesame Street” and “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.” The full library will incorporate TV offerings from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, and Warner Bros.

What is HBO Go? And how is it different from HBO Max and HBO Now?

If you have a cable TV subscription that includes HBO, you can also use HBO Go — it’s a freebie bonus app that comes with a paid HBO cable subscription. Plug in your cable TV login details, and you’ve got access to a vast library of HBO streaming content on-demand. It costs nothing extra, and works on everything from your smartphone to your Apple TV/Roku/etc. to your computer.

HBO Now and HBO Go have the exact same content library: All of HBO’s original programming, plus a rotating library of movies. 

But, unlike HBO Go, HBO Now and HBO Max don’t require a cable TV subscription — these standalone streaming services cost $14.99/month. With HBO Go, you still have to pay for cable TV. With HBO Max and HBO Now you just pay HBO directly, like Netflix or Hulu. 

With that said, many HBO cable subscribers can now receive access to HBO Max instead of HBO Go for no additional cost. HBO Max is essentially the “big sister” of the three services and it offers a ton of additional content not found on HBO Go or HBO Now. You can check the HBO Max website to see if your pay-TV provider offers access to HBO Max. 

Though it might seem confusing for all three services to co-exist, HBO Max is essentially being positioned as a replacement for HBO Now and HBO Go. It costs the same, and most people who already have access to HBO Now and HBO Go also now have access to HBO Max.

What else is coming to HBO Max? A bunch of new original content, including a show based on “Dune” and a new movie from the director of “Bird Box.”

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO

Here’s everything that’s announced for HBO Max thus far:

-“10,000 hours of premium content from HBO, Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more.

-The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of ‘Friends.’

-The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all episodes ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars.’

-The exclusive streaming home to a string of new Warner Bros.’ produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including new DC Entertainment series ‘Batwoman,’ and ‘Katy Keene’ (spinoff of ‘Riverdale’).

-New exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon (‘Big Little Lies’). Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films.

-‘Dune: The Sisterhood,’ an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book ‘Dune,’ from director Denis Villeneuve.

-‘Tokyo Vice,’ based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat, starring Ansel Elgort.

-‘The Flight Attendant,’ a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian. Kaley Cuoco, executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti, will star.

-‘Love Life,’ a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig.

-‘Station Eleven,’ a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville (‘The Leftovers’) and directed by Hiro Murai (‘Barry’).

-‘Made for Love,’ a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Patrick Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson.

-‘Gremlins,’ an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.

-Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman.

-‘Lovecraft Country,’ a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele (‘Us’) and J.J. Abrams (‘Westworld’).

-‘The Nevers,’ Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly.

-‘The Gilded Age,’ set the opulent world of 1885 New York from ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Julian Fellowes.

-‘Avenue 5,’ a high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (‘Veep’) starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad.

-‘The Undoing,’ a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley (‘Big Little Lies’), directed by Susanne Bier (‘Bird Box’) starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.

-‘The Plot Against America,’ reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro.

-‘Perry Mason’, the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role.

-‘I Know This Much Is True,’ a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia. Based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.”

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