Actor Jin Ha plays Augie (left), who joins Anna Kendrick’s character, Darby, in a karaoke room as she looks for true love in HBO Max’s new comedy romance series, “Love Life.” Set to debut on May 27, HBO Max is among the last few new streaming services to hit the market this year in hopes of pulling away subscribers from Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Image posted with permission from WarnerMedia.
It’s like the race between the turtle and the hare.
While new streaming services like Apple TV+ and Disney+ entered the market last November to compete against mainstays like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, HBO Max is among the final entries to the streaming service race (NBC Universal’s Peacock is scheduled for a July debut).
According to media reports, Disney+ has so far hit the jackpot in acquiring 50 million paid subscribers as of last month, but Apple TV+ is still lagging behind, especially since it only features a small amount of original content.
So as HBO Max is set to debut May 27, the question of how many subscribers it can attract — especially among teens stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic — could come down to how desperate they are to watch “Friends” episodes. (Netflix subscribers were no longer able to watch any of the 236 “Friends” episodes as of Dec. 31, 2019.)
Additionally, it will include every show and movie from HBO as well as a large selection of “high-profile licensed content,” which will altogether add up to approximately 10,000 hours of streaming content, according to cnet.com.
At a price of $14.99 a month (though discounts as much as $3 off have been promoted), the AT & T and WarnerMedia Entertainment-operated service offers new shows such as “Love Life,” “The Not Too Late Show With Elmo” and “On the Record.”
“Love Life” is a romantic comedy starring Anna Kendrick, who plays Darby, a 21st-century young lady struggling to find the person she will be with forever, according to the hbomax.com website.
“The Not Too Late Show With Elmo” features the lovable red muppet from Sesame Street playing host to guests such as NBC’s “Tonight Show’s” Jimmy Fallon, according to media reports.
And “On the Record” is a documentary about the Me Too movement and the impacts it has made on the music industry, according to the New York Post’s online website.
The caveat for HBO Max subscribers would have been the “Friends” reunion episode originally scheduled to be released at the end of this month. But because of the current quarantine restrictions, the show has been indefinitely postponed as taping for it has yet to even begin. It would have been the first on camera reunion with all six “Friends” cast members since 2004, which is when the last episode of the series aired.
Sophomore Autumn Alverson has already watched the entire “Friends” series on her Netflix account but does not plan to subscribe to HBO Max.
“I’m not a big fan of ‘Friends’ and don’t really care to see the reunion episode,” said Alverson, who also prefers her Netflix subscription over a new HBO Max one because it offers her user recommendations based on the movies she has watched in the past with her account. “One thing that Netflix has is a great selection of Netflix-original movies and TV shows. This is the reason why I’m still subscribed to Netflix as they produce amazing films.”
Unlike Alverson, freshman Jaden Hom’s parents once subscribed to HBO, the current streaming service known for such series as “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld.”
Hom used an exclusive offer that allowed Apple TV users to watch a selection of HBO shows as reruns.
“I do not have HBO anymore because I only got it to watch ‘His Dark Materials,’ ” Hom said of the eight-episode first season fantasy drama based on the novel series of the same name. “I think that [HBO and Netflix] are very similar with the exclusives — the main difference being that Netflix pays more focus on older and more niche movies and TV shows.”
Currently, Hom does not plan on asking his parents to subscribe to HBO Max because the second season of “His Dark Materials” has not been released yet.
“I think [HBO Max] would be a good competitor to Netflix, especially in today’s era when Netflix has a near monopoly over the streaming industry,” he said. “[But] I think you should just subscribe to the one that offers you the shows that you watch.”