The HBO Max launch is here, May 27, 2020, another significant streaming service available.
For those who got in at the intro pricing $11.99/month or those getting free as part of your AT&T TV or phone plans or paying the regular $14.99/month, whichever the case, you probably don’t need this post. The rest that are curious what it looks like inside? Got you covered.
And no, still no deal with Roku as of launch day (see: Still No Announcement for HBO Max on Roku, But Multiple Alternate Ways to Cast To TV at Launch). I launched the app on my Android phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ and use the Samsung Smart Things app (built-in) to cast to TV. It works great to play the movies and television shows full screen on the TV. That is but one of several cast to TV options available besides a more convenient Roku app.
My first login experience? Clean. Wow. Very clean. Love the dark background and the fact that it instantly wants to allow me add additional profiles a la Netflix.
You can create up to five additional profiles for either adults …
… or kids. The kids require setting a pin, which the system prompts immediately and intuitively to create.
Once you’ve set a pin, then you can define the content level parental controls by MPAA rating.
Here is how the profiles screen appears once a child’s account has been set.
Now, to change an existing profile, use the “MANAGE PROFILES” link at the bottom beneath the +Add buttons. A profile name is limited to 10 characters, so I couldn’t add Todd and Kara or even Todd N Kara — so had to just settle for Todd Kara.
A suggestion, would have been nice if the font size would have auto-changed smaller to allow for a few more characters. At least 20, but that’s a minor complaint. Again, UI (User Interface) is very clean and easy to follow. They wanted to make this very Netflix-like in usability, and it shows.
Once your profiles are in order, a feature which for those who don’t know how that works, it allows the system to learn what that particular user can watch, has watched, wants to watch and will provide suggestions to him/her/them based on history.
TV Series as “Series”
Going to breeze through the TV Series portion of the interface, but it’s pretty straightforward, starting with the HBO signature features and adding some coveted complete series like: The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Rick & Morty and more!
Those who already know and appreciate HBO originals will feel right at home here.
If you don’t finish a movie and move around a convenient “Continue Watching” menu appears at the top of the home menu so you can quickly return to in-progress movies.
Movies have a detailed A-Z menu along the right hand side so you can quickly and conveniently skip to the first letter title of a movie, versus scrolling through the entire list.
The movie sections are divided up into A-Z (full listing with breakpoints by letter as shown above), Originals, Just Added (!), Last Chance, Coming Soon, genre and studio and/or content grouping (DC, Sesame Street, TCM, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Looney Tunes, Crunchy Roll, Studio Ghibli).
I could write a detailed post just describing the DC grouping. It’s like a mini DC Universe worth of movies in there, including Batman getting his own section.
No comic books like DC Universe, but one could see how the two services could merge into one super, powerful mega streaming service (I’m surprised this wasn’t offered from the get-go for like $19.99/month for both). If Warner truly wants to take on Netflix with something they don’t and likely can’t offer, this would be one way to do so. Amazon, could counter this with putting up Comixology which they own. Sure, DC could pull their license of DC Comics from that service, but they wouldn’t. Watch for this being a possibility someday in the future.
DC has all the DC-related live action and animated movies in one organized place. Some of these movies left the DC Universe platform to come to HBO Max (causing unrest in that community, by the way). In September 2020 the DC Universe Rewards program ends and something is going to happen … no idea what that is, but perhaps that will be when there is a bundling deal in time for holiday (this is pure speculation on my part, but not an impossibility by any stretch).
Plenty of cartoons available under the Looney Tunes category. 31 seasons of Looney Tunes, alone.
A-Z some of many movies available for streaming at HBO Max launch
Not going to put out a complete A-Z listing of movies in this post, like we did for Peacock at launch, but below are some few notable titles:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Alita: Battle Angel
Along Came Polly
American Pie 2
Any Given Sunday
The Art of Racing In The Rain
Arthur 2: On The Rocks
Babe: Pig In The City
11+ Batman movies (see below)
Beauty & The Beast
Blinded By The Light
Bonnie & Clyde
The Bridges of Madison County
Bright Lights Big City
Casino Royale (the original)
Casino Royale (James Bond – Daniel Craig)
Crazy, Rich Asians
4 Critters Movies (Critters 1, 2, 3, 4)
Die Hard 2
Die Hard With a Vengeance
A Dog’s Life
Eyes Without A Face
A Fish Called Wanda
Galaxy of Terror
Gangs of New York
Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster
8 Godzilla movies (!!!!!)
Gone With The Wind
Gremlins 1 & 2
Happy Death Day
Happy Death Day 2 U
Hanzo The Razor (3 movies)
Happy Feet (2 movies)
Harry Potter (entire 7 movie series)
Hey Arnold The Movie
The Hitcher (1986)
The Hobbit (3 movies)
How The West Was Won
I Shot Jesse James
It: Chapter 2
Jaws (4 movies: 1,2,3 and 4)
Justice League (Snyder Cut coming in 2021)
King Kong (The original black and white!)
Kung Fu Panda
La La Land
The Lady Vanishes
The Land Before Time (10 animated movies)
LEGO Movies (5 movies)
Little Shop of Horrors
Lone Wolf and Cub (6 movies)
The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Rings (the complete trilogy)
Lost In Space
The Maltese Falcon
Million Dollar Babies
Mona Lisa Smile
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Nightmare on Elm Street (5 movies)
North By Northwest
The Odd Couple II
Of Mice and Men
An Officer and a Gentlemen
Paradise Lost (3 movies)
The Pelican Brief
Pet Sematary (the original movie)
Police Academy (7 movies)
Pretty and Pink
Pride and Prejudice
Quantum of Solace (James Bond)
Rebel Without A Cause (James Dean)
Rodan (more Godzilla, yes!)
Rock The Kasbah
School Of Rock
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
The Seventh Seal
Singing In The Rain
The Skulls (3 movies)
Son of Godzilla
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same
A Star Is Born (original movie)
A Star Is Born (remake 2019)
A Streetcar Named Desire
Terror of Mechagodzilla
The Thief of Baghdad
Through A Glass Darkly
To Be Or Not To Be
Unfriended: Dark Web
Water For Elephants
Wings Of Desire
The Witches Of Eastwick
The Wizard of Oz
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
The Zookeeper’s Wife
A very good mix of movies both very new, very old and in between. A better selection than what’s available at any other single movie streaming service. That’s Netflix, Amazon, they don’t have all these quality movies. They have good selection, but not this overall quality of film library on day one of launch.
However, if you want originals, every streaming service has its strengths. Disney+ has Star Wars, Marvel and their animated classics which are some of the greatest movies ever made. Peacock has the potential for a good library, although their initial launch wasn’t as solid as what HBO Max offers. Maybe when Peacock goes full launch mode in July, they will draw more from their classic library available as well as even more great TV series.
It’s a full-on war of streaming and we — movie and TV show lovers — are benefiting. It’s not what is available to watch, it’s what to watch next?
A very solid launch for HBO Max. I know people may balk at the price tag, but it’s worth at least signing up and watching movies — some of which haven’t been available anywhere else except on TV until now. We’ll be subscribed for awhile.
Are you subscribed to HBO Max? Will you be? What do you think? I’m curious to read thoughts from others.