HBO Max will be free for some customers — but not everyone

HBO Max
It’s almost here! (Photo: AT&T/Handout)

When AT&T launches HBO Max in May 2020, it will offer thousands of movies and TV shows from HBO’s current and back catalog intermingled with hits from Warner Bros. TV, WarnerMedia and a handful of other studios.

Friends, Doctor Who and the Big Bang Theory are expected to make the jump from various different streaming platforms to HBO Max next year. So, too, will adult animated hits South Park (leaving Hulu) and Rick & Morty (also leaving Hulu), both of which will be offered by HBO Max on day ay one.

Considering the buildup of content, it’s hard not to get excited about HBO Max — or, at the very least, be curious about it. No one is more excited about what’s coming next year than executives at AT&T, HBO’s parent company, who have promised to make HBO Max available to some HBO subscribers and AT&T customers when it rolls out in May.

Technically, no one is getting “free” access to HBO Max when it launches — but some customers who give AT&T money already or plan to do so in the future will get complimentary access to HBO Max without having to pay for a separate subscription. Use this guide to see if you’ll get access to HBO Max when it launches or if you’re out of luck on the perk.

I subscribe to HBO through DirecTV. Will I get HBO Max?

Answer: Yes. AT&T owns DirecTV, and AT&T has said anyone who subscribes to HBO through an AT&T-owned service will get access to HBO Max when it launches in May 2020 at no extra charge. Just keep your HBO subscription active.

I subscribe to HBO through an AT&T streaming service like AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now or AT&T U-Verse. Will I get HBO Max?

Answer: Yes. Since you subscribe to HBO through an AT&T-owned video service, the company says you’ll get access to HBO Max when it launches in May 2020 at no extra charge to you. Just make sure you keep your regular HBO subscription active.

I subscribe to HBO through a cable company (Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, etc.) not owned by AT&T. Will I get HBO Max?

Answer: No. At least that’s the answer for now. AT&T says customers who subscribe to HBO through a cable provider like Comcast, Spectrum or Cox should “stay tuned” as the company gets closer to rolling out HBO Max, because there’s a possibility things will change. But for now, plan on either shelling out an extra $15 a month for both HBO and HBO Max or canceling your HBO subscription through your cable provider and switching to HBO Max.

I’m an AT&T Wireless customer who gets HBO for free. Will I also get access to HBO Max?

Answer: Yes, AT&T says wireless customers who currently get HBO for free will also get HBO Max when it launches next year. Though AT&T has not made a formal announcement, it’s very likely AT&T will be switching its perk from giving away HBO to giving away HBO Max.

I’m an AT&T Wireless customer, but I don’t currently receive HBO for free. Will I eventually get free access to HBO Max?

Answer: Maybe. As of now, AT&T is only giving away HBO on its priciest wireless plan, so if you’re not currently eligible for free HBO or decided to switch away from a plan that was eligible, AT&T currently isn’t promising you free access to HBO Max when it launches in May. But AT&T officials have expressed an interest to get as many people signed up for HBO Max as possible, and it’s prioritizing AT&T customers across the board, so it’s possible the company will eventually announce greater access to HBO Max for its customers on cheaper phone plans.

I subscribe to HBO through Orby TV. Will I also get access to HBO Max?

Answer: No, for now AT&T does not have any plans to make HBO Max available to viewers who subscribe to HBO through Orby TV’s satellite service.

I use HBO Go to watch HBO programming. Will I also get access to HBO Max?

Answer: It depends. If you use DirecTV, AT&T TV or AT&T TV Now to subscribe to HBO, then yes. If you use anything else to subscribe to HBO, the answer — at least for now — is no. If you’re borrowing someone’s HBO Go login and you’re not sure how the subscriber pays for HBO, you should ask the person who pays the bill. Also, stop doing that, it’s 2019, you’re a grownup, pay for your own damn subscription.

I subscribe to HBO Now. Will I also get access to HBO Max?

Answer: It depends. If you pay for HBO Now directly through HBO’s website, then yes, you will get access to HBO Max. But if a third party handles billing for HBO Now (i.e., you subscribe to HBO Now through iTunes), then the answer is no. But AT&T says customers who use third parties like iTunes to handle HBO Now billing should “stay tuned” as we get closer to HBO Max’s launch date.

I subscribe to HBO as a “channel” on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video or Roku. Will I also get access to HBO Max?

Answer: No. If you access HBO programming through Amazon Prime Video, Roku Channel or Apple TV’s app, you will not get access to HBO Max. You may want to consider switching to HBO Now and paying for your subscription directly through HBO’s website.

I subscribe to HBO through Sling TV or Hulu with Live TV. Will I also get access to HBO Max?

Answer: No.  AT&T currently isn’t offering complimentary HBO Max access to people with HBO subscriptions through over-the-top streaming TV services, including Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV, and AT&T has offered no hints that it plans to do so in the future.

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