As noted for a year now, Discovery Networks' merger with Warner Brothers was a significant move in the streaming wars. HBO Max, the poorly named rush job of an inclusive streamer designed to compete with Disney+ and Netflix, was now under the eye of the company which launched Discovery+, a niche reality series-aimed offering with one of the best interfaces out there. The two are being pushed together into one better-designed, easier-to-navigate service, with many of HBO Max's under-the-hood problems fixed. But for the average Anglophile, will the new service, now called Max, be worth the money when it launches in May 2023?
There's good news and bad news on that front. Let's start with the bad. As we have already reported, HBO Max, or just Max, isn't going to keep failed HBO shows as exclusives and will be shipping them off to FAST networks like Tubi. The streaming service has also been on a canceling spree, shutting down European production studios. The fates of series fans love on HBO Max, like The Great Pottery Throwdown, I Hate Suzie, the original version of BBC's Ghosts, and others, are up in the air. Other shows, like Our Flag Means Death, are probably toast if HBO does now decide to rescue them.
But that doesn't mean you should start reaching for the cancelation button. Despite being dropped from the service's name, HBO will still have all its programming on Max. That will be the only place its new shows are streamed, so for most of us looking to watch Rain Dogs Season 1, The Gilded Age Season 2, Industry Season 3, and other HBO-BBC co-productions, the new Max service will be a must-have. As proof of HBO's continued presence on Max (and promises of being easy to find on the homepage), the Max presentation included the first trailer for Kate Winslet's new HBO series, initially dubbed The Palace, and is now called The Regime.
As for the additions to Max from Discovery+, fans will no longer need to subscribe to an entirely separate service to get their fix of new episodes of the BBC reality series, The Repair Shop. Also, all the BBC Food shows that have collected over on Food Network (Sugar Rush, Eddie Eats America) and reality series that have found their way to Discovery's TLC (The Undateables) will also come to Max. Most importantly, all the older David Attenborough nature series and Brian Cox (the Scottish astrophysicist, not the Scottish actor) outer space specials that are part of the Science Channel's lineup will also be on Max.
But the biggest winners will be those who are into what BritBox once dubbed "transatlantic puddings," or the "British-ish" show. HBO was ground zero for this type of series with its hit Game of Thrones, a show full of British talent being very Shakespearean in a not-British fantasy world, either in looks or sensibility, so it makes sense for Max will be full of them. Succession, of course, is HBO's biggest "British-ish" show of the moment, along with House of the Dragon. Max will add a new Westerosi spinoff, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, to the lineup.
Other additions of note in the "British-ish" lineup include Colin Ferrall starring as the titular villain in The Batman spinoff, The Penguin, and U2 making a brand new adaptation of Peter & The Wolf, for which Bono wrote new music. But the biggest news in fantasy is the rumored Harry Potter TV series, a planned ten-season adaptation of all seven novels with an all-new cast.
HBO Max will morph into "Max" for most subscribers on May 23, 2023, with more programming announcements to come when it does.