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HBO Max Explainer: What Is It and the Best Shows to Watch

HBO Max Streaming

With all the streaming services currently available on the market, the battle for subscriptions and viewers now heavily depends on the content a specific platform offers. This includes exclusive shows and movies as well as future sources and contents that will have viewers subscribing to the platform. Enter HBO Max, HBO’s main streaming app.

Launched May this year by WarnerMedia – the parent company of Warner Bros. film studios and HBO premium cable network – HBO Max promises a vast array of shows and movies inclusive in their impressive catalog along with its big-budget originals viewers can only watch through their platform. It boasts many high-profile HBO Max exclusives including Friends, and the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series – the former switching from rival streaming service (Netflix) which confused a people at first and the latter surprising many as they weren’t even announced before the streaming service’s launch.

Anime fans will also have a field day with HBO Max’s library as it holds all of the films from Japan’s legendary animation house, Studio Ghibli. Moreover, you can also access a selection of other anime series and films that are currently in Crunchyroll.

In short, there are different kinds of content viewers can enjoy as soon as they subscribe to HBO Max, and plenty more will come in the future. But is it worth subscribing to?


What is HBO Max?

Screenshot from HBO Max


To avoid confusion as there are already many platforms with the “HBO” name on it, HBO Max is simply WarnerMedia’s endeavor to compete against big streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus. Launched in May 27, 2020, it is generally a replacement for HBO Now.

Like its rivals, HBO Max offers an outstanding library that includes big hit series and films along with its original productions called Max Originals. These exclusive originals range from movies to TV series and documentaries. It also offers a library of podcasts among other things – all exclusive based on its current programming. Furthermore, all previous shows that were once in HBO Now will also be available for HBO Max users – the former rebranded into just “HBO”, an app limited to the cable network’s regular programs (As of August, HBO Go got dissolved).

If you want to learn move about HBO Max’s competitors, here is our comparative article for Hulu vs Netflix vs Disney Plus.


How Much Will HBO Max Cost You?

Amongst all the streaming platforms that are currently out there, HBO Max is the most expensive of the bunch. HBO Max offers a monthly subscription fee of $15 after a week-long free trial. This price matches the one HBO initially offers its subscribers for its regular cable channel on most Pay TV providers and what was once HBO Now. By comparison, Netflix comes  $13 a month while Disney Plus starts at $7 a month.

We should also take note that some HBO subscribers will have no problems upgrading to HBO Max nor will have to pay additional fees to subscribe to this streaming platform. However, no one’s sure how this works or what kind of HBO subscriber qualifies for this perk. The best course of action is to call them and find out if your subscription is eligible for a free upgrade.

However, here is our list of the best free move streaming sites that you can try if you’re not open to spending for you favorite shows.


Best Features of HBO Max

Along with its treasure trove of popular and on-demand top movies and shows, exclusive originals, anime, and cartoons, HBO Max also offers an impressive list of streaming features.


Parental Control

As HBO Max offers a variety of shows meant for adults and minors, this feature will enable parents to have control over what their kids can watch on this streaming app. They can limit it to just the many cartoons and children’s shows that are currently available on the app. Parents can easily create a “Kid” profile to do this.


Multiple Account Profiles

HBO Max lets up to 3 people who can watch simultaneously. This is regardless if these three different users are using the same profile or not. Users can access HBO Max through their smart TV, the mobile app, or a web browser.


Offline Download

Similar to Disney Plus and Netflix, HBO Max lets its users download shows and movies to watch later when they are offline. There are limitations, however. For instance, users can only download up to 30 episodes of tv series or movies per account across all devices and profiles. Although unwatched downloaded content can only stay up to 30 days or up to 48 hours to finish once you started watching it.


Simultaneous Streams

HBO Max supports up to three simultaneous streams across different devices and profiles. They specify though that you must need an internet speed of at least 5Mbps which shouldn’t be a problem for most users nowadays.


Where Is HBO Max Available?

HBO Max website
Screenshot from HBO Max


Currently, HBO Max is only available in the United States and certain US territories.

Don’t fret if you’re not living in the States: HBO Max will have an international expansion eventually. According to WarnerMedia’s announcement, it will be likely that Latin America will have HBO Max first in 2021 – the same time it will launch in the Caribbean.

Europe is also an important territory for HBO, so European viewers can expect to be the first region outside of the Americas to get the service. However, this will come first to European countries that “currently operate HBO networks and have over-the-top-services,” according to AT&T President and COO and former WarnerMedia CEO John T. Stankey. This list includes Spain and Nordic countries, but the United Kingdom isn’t part of this group.

This doesn’t mean that HBO Max’s content won’t get syndicated through other third party providers, though. You can view several HBO Max contents in Canada through Bell Media since they host HBO on Crave, their own streaming platform. Australians have access to HBO shows through Foxtel. Both Foxtel and Bell Media renewed and expanded their agreements with WarnerMedia even before HBO Max was launched, allowing both companies’ rights to show HBO Max original series produced by WarnerMedia and its library such as the hit TV series, Friends. This deal, however, doesn’t include third-party studios and is negotiated separately.


Access HBO Max By Using A VPN

Photo by Madskip from Pixabay


Additionally, users from other countries can access HBO Max through a VPN. Not only is a VPN an excellent tool to protect your privacy in the digital world, but it also gives an advantage for users to fake their location online. This poses possible issues for streaming platforms online that impose a geographical restriction on its contents.

This doesn’t mean, however, that it will work flawlessly forever. Streaming platforms are constantly developing and improving ways on how to detect and block users who use VPN to outsmart their networks.


Which Devices Can You Watch HBO Max On?

Photo by InspiredImages from Pixabay


As enticing HBO Max seems to be, there are still certain issues that still need to be ironed out. For one, the question of how to get HBO Max is going to be different for every individual user. It is not guaranteed that HBO Go and HBO Now subscribers will automatically be shifted to HBO Max.

Nevertheless, users can access HBO Max through a good number of devices. Some of these include Apple and Android devices, Android TV, Apple TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Samsung TV, and PC and Mac computers. Unfortunately, Roku and Amazon Fire TV users have to wait before they can access HBO Max. Details on when it will be are still uncertain.

This downside may prove to be a big problem for WarnerMedia as both Roku and Amazon Fire TV represent a big percentage of streaming devices used in the US. Users who used to subscribe to HBO Go or HBO Now using these these media players will undoubtedly have a hard time getting to stream the newly launched HBO Max as HBO Go is no longer available.


What Are the Best HBO Max Originals?

HBO Max may still have a few kinks that need to be dealt with, but it is not to say that it lacks in content. According to HBO, its library includes more than ten thousand hours worth of series and films – some of which we’ve already mentioned above.

Nonetheless, we listed down a couple of Max Originals and exclusives to help you with your list of what to watch with your HBO Max subscription. If you’re looking for a list of show for other streaming services, here’s our list of the best Netflix shows.


Expecting Amy

This docu-series exclusive in HBO Max is about Amy Schumer, a famous comedian and actress. It follows her through her pregnancy and the creation of her special stand-up show, Amy Schumer: Growing.

The show has since garnered positive feedbacks ever since it premiered in July 9, with the Hollywood Reporter praising it for showcasing “the realities of pregnancy in all its unfiltered glory.”


Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness

Driven by his obsession to constantly learn and grow, Ravi Patel’s new docu-series offers a raw and unfiltered look about how the actor grapples to get answers to universal questions. The actor, documentarian, and philanthropist explores and immerses himself to the various and unique customs and traditions to understand life more. He brings his family and friends along the journey in various countries such as Mexico, Japan, and Denmark.

This CNN four-part series – which is now acquired by HBO Max – premiered last August 27 and was a great addition to the many Max Originals that are available on the streaming app. According to Lizzie Fox, HBO Max’s SVP of Non-fiction programming: “We’re very excited to go on this journey around the world with Ravi to provide audiences a unique and thoughtful perspective on life.”


Love Life

Launched as one of HBO Max’s first of many originals last May, Love Life is a 10-episode anthology series starring Anna Kendrick. The show aims to follow a different person per season on their journey from their first love to their last one, which also includes the many people they meet along the way. A second season is slated to air next year.


Raised by Wolves


Raised by Wolves is a science-fiction drama series that premiered in HBO Max on September 3. It’s premise centers around two androids tasked to take care of human children on their planet after a great war destroyed Earth. As the human colony grows, the threat of it being torn apart due to religious differences becomes more apparent. The androids learn how treacherous and difficult controlling human beliefs are in their grueling journey.

With only four episodes currently available on HBO Max, the series has already amassed quite a good impression on viewers. Its 8.6 out of 10 stars in IMDB is a testament to the quality of entertainment it can provide.


Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior & Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Among several top movies that were made available on HBO Max, the original Mad Max films were included on the list. Max users can view this cult classic starring Mel Gibson. This movie is great to binge-watch before watching the 2015 version with Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.

The two films follow Max Rockatansky as he roams around a post-apocalyptic world where anarchy has become the universal law. For those who’ve only seen the latest installment of the franchise, you should check out the first trilogy to see how the story progressed and the way movies were made back then.




Fans of this famous television sitcom might have thought the worst when it vanished from Netflix’s catalog. However, there’s no more need to wallow in sadness as HBO Max announced that Friends will be available on the streaming app upon launch.

A reunion special was also announced that will be exclusively shown in HBO Max. This reunion will feature a return of the entire cast and creators. It was set to release last May but, the filming of the special (and its premiere) was suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The unscripted special was tentatively entitled, “The One Where They Got Back Together.”


How to Download Movies on HBO Max


It’s easy to download movies and episodes on HBO Max. Downloading your favorite shows will allow you to watch your favorite content even when offline or on the go.

The easiest way to download content is via the HBO Max app that can be downloaded on any mobile device or tablet. Both Apple and Android users can download this app for free, but there is a subscription fee of $15 per month.


Downloading HBO Max Movies

Here’s how to download shows and movies for offline use:

  1. Make sure that you have an active Wi-Fi connection. HBO Max won’t download over cell data no matter how fast your 4G is.
  2. Open the app on your mobile phone or tablet.
  3. Sign in. If you’re new, create an account and fill in all necessary information, including payment information.
  4. Look through the vast catalog of content, and choose which one you wish to download.
  5. Once you’ve chosen, tap the show or movie of your choice to see its details page.
  6. You will then see an option that includes “Preview,” “Add to My List,” and “Download”. Click on “Download” to begin downloading the episode or movie.
  7. A download percentage can be seen once you tap download. You can monitor its progress and even pause it by simply clicking on it. Tap the X button if you wish to cancel the download.


You can find all of your downloaded media in the app’s “My Downloads” section. A single account is limited to 30 downloads across all profiles and devices. These downloads can be a mix of movies and series episodes.

Like what was briefly mentioned earlier, users have up to 30 days to watch their downloaded content offline. It expires if it goes past 30 days untouched or 48 hours once you started. You can simply re-download them if time does expire.


A Little Downside

Unfortunately, downloads aren’t available in HBO Max TV apps or on your personal computers via the web browser. You can view your downloads on the mobile app by linking up the screens. This is done through screen mirroring options like Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay.


Should you get HBO Max?

Just like with any service you’re subscribing to, there will always be pros and cons. The decision is up to you whether you’re willing to take the good with the bad.

This would be an easy choice for you if you are an HBO subscriber from the beginning. But the conversation may change if you’re a Roku or Amazon Fire TV user. The monthly subscription fee wouldn’t also pose an issue since it didn’t necessarily change. If you were using either of the aforementioned media players, this is something you might need to seriously think about.

Furthermore, even if you haven’t subscribed to HBO, the question of whether you should get the service will be tougher. Whichever you choose, though, one thing remains certain: the streaming war has become more crowded.

HBO Max Explainer: What Is It and the Best Shows to Watch

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