WarnerMedia put speculation to bed, announcing its new direct-to-consumer digital streaming service will be called HBO Max.
Anchored by HBO, WarnerMedia said the new streaming service will offer an array of content including from HBO, Warner Brothers, New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network among others. It will also include an extensive library of original programming which WarnerMedia calls Max Originals.
As part of its direct-to-consumer service, WarnerMedia said it secured the exclusive streaming rights to "Friends," "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Pretty Little Liars" and new dramas that will appear on the CW network this fall. WarnerMedia also inked production deals with Hollywood producer Greg Berlanti and Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon.
“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform. 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, starting with the phenomenon that is ‘Friends,’” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer said in a press release announcing the name of its new service.
WarnerMedia Taking on Netflix, Hulu, Disney with New Service
HBO Max is WarnerMedia and parent AT&T's move to take on Netflix, Hulu and the soon to be launched Disney+ streaming content services that count millions of customers. Securing the exclusive rights to "Friends" is seen as a huge victory over Netflix, which streams the show and is hugely popular on the platform. "Friends" is leaving Netflix at some point this year.
WarnerMedia is also taking a page from Disney and NBCUniversal by pulling content from third-party streaming services as they gear up to launch their own subscription services. NBC, for one example, announced in June it would pull its show "The Office" from Netflix and stream it exclusively on its own subscription service it plans to launch.
Cord Cutting Popularity Growing
The move on the part of WarnerMedia comes at a time when cord cutting is growing in popularity. For the first quarter of this year, traditional pay TV subscriptions saw a 1 million decline. That comes after the industry lost 3.2 million subscribers for all of 2018. The biggest loser was AT&T, which lost 544,000 subscribers for its Uverse and DirecTV services during 2018. Dish, the satellite TV service, saw its subscriptions decline by 266,000 in 2018.