Cape Town – WarnerMedia on Tuesday announced that its subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service it plans to launch in autumn-2020 will be called HBO Max with a massive raft of newly-commissioned shows.
WarnerMedia plans to launch HBO Max in early-2020, roughly at the same time and just after The Walt Disney Company plans to launch its new streaming service Disney+ on 12 November 2019 in the United States.
Disney has no plans to make Disney+ available in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa for at least a few years according to its investors' presentation. The Hulu streaming service, now owned by Disney, will, however, launch internationally, although no time-frame has yet been given for its roll-out in international markets like South Africa.
Apple plans to launch its new streaming service, Apple TV+, also in late-2019, also with a host of new shows.
Existing video streaming services like Showmax from MultiChoice's Connected Video division, Netflix South Africa, Amazon Prime Video, Viu and others are battling it out with each other for the small but growing market share of South African and African subscribers, alongside traditional pay-TV operators like MultiChoice's DStv and StarSat from China's StarTimes.
"Anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO's excellence and award-winning storytelling, the new service will be 'Maximised' with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia's enormous portfolio of beloved brands and libraries," WarnerMedia said in a statement on Tuesday.
WarnerMedia says that HBO Max will contain content from HBO, as well as programming from Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Looney Tunes, and will launch with 100 000 hours of content.
"HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and its direct-to-consumer division, in the statement.
"HBO's world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries."
It was also announced that every episode of the sitcom Friends will leave Netflix early next year and make its way to HBO Max.
A massive raft of Max Original series has already been announced for HBO Max. It's not clear where and how South African viewers will get to see this new programming, similar to big questions around the multiple original TV series being produced by Disney and planned for Disney+.
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In South Africa HBO series was exclusive to M-Net (DStv 101) on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service for a number of years until shows were "co-located" with Showmax and series like the recent final season of Game of Thrones that became available on both Showmax and M-Net at the same time as the linear broadcast scheduled time.
According to insiders, some HBO titles are also going to become Showmax exclusive series like the teen drama series Euphoria that just made its debut with M-Net and DStv subscribers that won't be getting to see some of them. Showmax and M-Net didn't respond to a media enquiry made two weeks ago seeking comment about this and other strategic content placing decisions between the two.
HBO MAX ORIGINALS ANNOUNCED
Dune: The Sisterhood, an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's book based in the world created by Frank Herbert's book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve.
Tokyo Vice, based on Jake Adelstein's non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort.
The Flight Attendant, a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti.
Love Life, a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig.
Station Eleven, a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel's international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai.
Made for Love, a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Patrick Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson.
Gremlins, an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.
Stephen King's The Outsider, a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman.
Lovecraft Country, a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams.
The Nevers, Joss Whedon's new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly.
The Gilded Age, the opulent world of 1885 New York from Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes.
Avenue 5, high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci, starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad.
The Undoing, a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.
The Plot Against America reimagined history based on Phillip Roth's novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro.
Perry Mason, the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role.
I Know This Much Is True, a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.