AT&T’s new streaming service HBO Max arrives in 2020, will be the exclusive home of ‘Friends’

AT&T’s acquisition of HBO goes beyond just offering premium TV programming — the company revealed on Tuesday that it’s going to call its new WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max, and that this will launch next spring, with more than 10,000 hours of content available to subscribers.

It’ll have Friends, dear readers, which is all that matters in the modern streaming wars, where, weirdly, services compete for dominion over a couple of decade-plus-old TV shows, including The Office and this highly unrelatable 90s NBC sitcom.

HBO Max won’t offer exclusively HBO content, as you can probably tell by the availability of Friends, but The Wall Street Journal reports that the naming is meant to indicate how important HBO as a TV brand is to consumers. In other words, they’re going to make the most of that purchase, even if it dilutes the actual HBO brand in the process. It’s beginning to become much more clear why HBO CEO Richard Plepler resigned in February.

The new service enters a teeming field of competitors, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix and many more I can’t even remember off the top of my head. It’s also not launching until after Apple puts live its own Apple TV+ service, and Disney+ comes online in November and, per the WSJ, it’ll cost “slightly more” than HBO’s currently $14.99 per month pricing for Go alone.

AT&T is spending on content, however, including the high purchase price for Friends’ rights, as well as development deals with a number of top talents from the film and television industry, including Reese Witherspoon, Greg Berlanti and more. Future CW shows will also reside on HBO Max instead of on Netflix, which is bad news for my habit of bingeing subpar DC superhero TV, including Arrow and The Flash.

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