If you want "Friends," starting next month you'll have to come here and pay $15
Thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic, there are many people stuck at home looking to entertain themselves. There are a few popular streaming apps that are up to the task such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, and others. Starting on May 27th, another streamer will launch looking for some of your entertainment dollars, HBO Max. And if you're looking for Friends, HBO Max will be the only streaming service offering the popular sitcom. HBO reportedly paid $425 million for the exclusive rights to stream all 236 episodes over the next five years.
HBO Max will be priced at $15 a month, a big roll of the dice for a new streamer amid a pandemic
Of course, companies don't spend that kind of money unless they plan on turning a profit and that is why HBO Max is going to cost you $15 per month. That is pricey compared to the $4.99 and $6.99 per month that Apple TV+ and Disney+ charge respectively. But HBO Max is relying on familiar shows like Friends, Game of Thrones, The West Wing, Pretty Little Liars, and The Big Bang Theory to bring in some business. There also will be new shows ready to go on launch day including Love Life, a full-length scripted-series in the RomCom genre starring Anna Kendrick.
WarnerMedia, which announced the new service today, is rolling out the big guns with another series ready to go on launch day. Looney Tunes Cartoons is a new animated series that takes advantage of the huge number of iconic cartoon characters in the Looney Tunes library. The press release notes that "Marquee Looney Tunes characters will be featured in their classic pairings in simple, gag-driven and visually vibrant stories. The new series will include 80 eleven-minute episodes, each comprised of animated shorts that vary in length and include adapted storylines for today’s audience."
The Not Too Late Show with Elmo and it will debut on the streamer May 27th. Fellow Sesame Street resident Cookie Monster will be Elmo's sidekick (think Ed McMahon) and he signed a long-term contract that puts him in the chips (groan). Guests will include Elmo's rivals such as Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver, comedian John Mullaney, author Kwame Alexander, actress Blake Lively, and musical acts Lil Nas X and The Jonas Brothers.Guess who will be hosting a late night show on HBO Max? If you guessed former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, you're absolutely wrong. Actually, it is Elmo. The show is called
Classic movies are also part of the fare. A Star is Born (the 2018 hit starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper) will be offered along with other titles like The Matrix, The Wizard of Oz, My Neighbor Totoro (if you're young enough or have kids you might remember this anime), Detective Pikachu, and When Harry met Sally.
This is a good time to launch a new streaming service, but also a risky time. With the global economy in tatters (22 million Americans are out of work), there is only so much money to be spent on streaming video services at the moment. That could make this business a zero-sum game as money to subscribe to a new streamer comes from the cancellation of a current subscription. For example, someone who wants to subscribe to HBO Max might have to cancel his Netflix subscription first.
Still, with the right combination of content that appeals to adults and children, a streaming service can do well during the coronavirus crisis. For example, Disney+ now has 50 million paid subscribers after five months. Of course, it helps that Verizon offers a free year of service to its unlimited customers.
Warner executives are bullish on HBO Max. Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer said, "Our number one goal is having extraordinary content for everyone in the family, and the HBO Max programming mix we are so excited to unveil on May 27th will bear that out. Even in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, the all-star teams behind every aspect of HBO Max will deliver a platform and a robust slate of content that is varied, of the highest quality, and second to none. I’m knocked out by the breadth and depth of our new offering, from the Max originals, our Warner Bros library and acquisition titles from around the world, and of course the entirety of HBO."