HBO Max has finally launched, and we now wonder when the SVOD platform will be released in France, for what price, with what catalog, and what are the original programs offered. You will find the answers to all these questions in our complete file.
HBO Max has been available in the United States since May 27, 2020. A new competitor in a very competitive video-on-demand industry that already relies on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney + and many more. But this service has arguments to make to stand out from the crowd, based in particular on the power and respect inspired by the HBO brand, a guarantee of quality for many television enthusiasts. Possible French release, premium price, catalog: we come back step by step on what you need to know about HBO Max.
When will HBO Max be released in France?
For now, HBO has not formalized a launch in France for its new SVOD service. Moreover, it is currently only available in one country: the United States. Even English-speaking nations are deprived of it to this day. But if the success is at the rendezvous across the Atlantic, it is likely that HBO Max will land in other territories. On February 12, 2021, HBO officially announced the launch of its streaming service in Europe, in order to compete with Disney +. The launch is announced for the course of the year 2021.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be housed in the same boat. A few countries have already been announced, such as Spain and Portugal. On the other side of the Pyrenees, the HBO España service has already existed for years. With regard to broadcasting rights, the WarnerMedia subsidiary will have a free hand to launch HBO Max as well. On the contrary, it is difficult to see the platform landing soon in the United Kingdom, where HBO and Sky have signed a contract giving the latter exclusive broadcasting rights for HBO content, some of which are even broadcast live, at the same time. than in the United States.
And France? It was not mentioned in the first countries concerned by the European launch. The situation in France is similar to that across the Channel. HBO is linked to Orange, which owns OCS. The package of channels has, like Sky, an exclusivity on HBO programs. We remember that OCS had even broadcast the last seasons of Game of Thrones simultaneously with the United States, even if each episode was broadcast from 3 am at home. Remember that the contract between Orange (OCS) and HBO ends at the end of 2021.
It remains to be seen what will be the strategy of the American company at this time: continue with its partner or try your luck solo (or with the help of a local distributor, as Disney + did with Canal). Let’s not forget either that many Warner movies are available on Amazon Prime Video in France, not everything is played with OCS and HBO. However, with the elements we have at our disposal, it seems impossible to see HBO Max land in France before 2022 at the earliest.
What is the price of the HBO Max subscription?
In the US, HBO Max costs $ 14.99 per month, or the equivalent of just over $ 13. HBO targets premium as much on the programs it broadcasts as on its prices and relies on its good image with the general public to convince consumers. A strategy that remains risky while the platform is based for the moment on content that we already know, that Netflix acts as a juggernaut in the sector and that Disney + has just launched for half the price.
Also read: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Canal + Séries, OCS, Disney +, Apple TV +, video streaming comparison
It remains to be estimated what would be the possible price of HBO Max in France. To do this, we can look at what is being done with the competition in terms of conversions. In the United States, the different formulas Netflix are priced at $ 8.99, 12.99 and 15.99 per month. In France, the prices are 7.99, 11.99 and 15.99 euros per month. We therefore have roughly similar prices for the first two offers and a higher rate in France than in the United States for the highest-end subscription (the euro being stronger than the dollar). In Disney +, the subscription is billed at 6.99 dollars monthly or 69.99 dollars per year in Uncle Sam’s country, against 6.99 euros and 69.99 euros annually in France, where the service is therefore more expensive . Based on these examples, we can bet without taking too much risk that if HBO Max arrives in France, we should expect a price of 14.99 euros per month.
What movies and series does the HBO Max catalog include?
HBO Max’s catalog is well stocked, with over 10,000 hours of programming available at launch. WarnerMedia has ended its collaborations with Netflix and other video streaming services in order to recover the rights to its licenses, some of which are thus found exclusively on HBO Max, in the United States at least. If HBO Max arrives with us, the catalog will undoubtedly be different for programs from producers outside the WarnerMedia group. And for the contents of the latter, it will be necessary to recover the rights which are attributed today between Netflix, Amazon Prime Video (Warner feature films) and OCS (catalog of the HBO channel).
On the series side, of course, the shows broadcast by the HBO channel are included which have helped to build its reputation: for example, we have Game of Thrones and Westworld among recent content, or Les Sopranos, The Wire, Sex and the City or Six Feet Under if we go back a little further. There are also programs like Watchmen, Veep or Silicon Valley. As you can see, it’s not the quality that’s missing.
HBO Max has also got its hands on some extremely popular series that are not the work of HBO. We can cite Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, Le Prince de Bel-Air, Pretty Little Liars as well as South Park. For its American launch, HBO Max had even planned to reunite the cast of Friends for a show, which would have been a strong appeal product for the service. Sadly, the COVID-19 epidemic passed by and its plans fell through.
For films, HBO Max relies mainly on the catalog of its parent company, Warner. And there again, we are spoiled. Among the hundreds of films offered, we find:
- DC production: all Batman, Justice League, Man of Steel, Aquaman, Watchmen: The Guardians, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, the acclaimed Joker…
- The Matrix trilogy
- The Harry Potter saga
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy
- The Hobbit Trilogy
- Blade Runner: The Final Cut (recently available on Netflix in France)
- Criterion Collection Films
- Studio Ghibli Movies
- Classics: Casablanca, 2001, A Space Odyssey, An American in Paris, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Citizen Kane, King Kong, Ben-Hur, Bonnie and Clyde, The Wizard of Oz…
- And many others…
Remember also that HBO Max has planned to broadcast in 2021 the Snyder Cut Justice League, a much-criticized film when it was released and whose first director, Zach Snyder, was dropped in favor of Joss Whedon, who reused very little of Snyder’s work. Disappointed fans had long called for the release of a new version of the film, the editing of which would be under the supervision of Snyder. Their wish was granted by HBO Max.
What original productions on HBO Max?
If as a glimpse a little above, the catalog of HBO Max is quite complete and contains many cult productions, we can still blame it for something: it is generally seen and reviewed. There are only six original programs at launch, with eleven more expected for summer 2020, and there is not much new to eat.
For the moment anyway, because the platform has ambitions in this area. It has already announced its ambition to launch 30 stamped content HBO Originals by the end of 2020, and double in 2021. Beyond the meeting of the actors of Friends and the Snyder Cut of Justice League which we spoke about earlier, are in the boxes among others: a reboot from the Gossip Girl series (10-episode first season confirmed), a series about Green Lantern (which couldn’t be less successful than the film), the sci-fi series Raised by Wolves (with Ridley Scott at the helm, the first season will offer 10 episodes), a new musical film Grease or even something new about Tom and Jerry.
There will be something for everyone, which is a strength compared to a Disney + very focused on very specific licenses and genres.
Reception of HBO Max in the United States
At the time of this writing, HBO Max has been available in the United States for a very short time. No subscriber figure has been communicated, but the American trade press has tested and judged the platform. In regards to interface, many observers believe that it would benefit from improving clarity, with a focus on content and navigation that are far from optimal. HBO Max has difficulty in presenting its many contents well to make it easier for the user to navigate. The comparison is made in particular with Disney +, which has better managed to separate its content from different universes (Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, National Geographic), where HBO Max is less well organized.
As for the content itself, everyone agrees that it is of high quality, but the media point out the lack of original programs. At the moment it’s very poor, although it should improve afterwards. We know that Netflix stood out from the competition with its Originals (House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, more recently The Witcher, etc.), which is what attracts and retains users ( The Mandalorian has this role for Disney + for example).
Finally, the price makes cringe. $ 15 for an SVOD service is a lot, even for the United States. Only Netflix’s most expensive plan has a higher price. And this while the competition is fiercer across the Atlantic in this sector than in France. In addition to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Hulu is also extremely popular there and Apple TV + has been adopted better than it is with us. Being the most expensive when its competitors are already established, more affordable, rich in content, and with more original programs is not going to help the platform to grab subscribers.