HBO Max Will Be Free To HBO Subscribers — But Only If You Have AT&T

The streaming wars are heating up, and getting more confusing. Days after Verizon offered its customers a free one-year subscription to Disney+, AT&T is getting in on the free streaming service deal — with a few caveats. AT&T customers will get HBO Max free, but only if they are already HBO subscribers.

WarnerMedia is giving its 10 million AT&T customers who already subscribe to HBO — either through pay-TV or HBO Now — free access to HBO Max when it launches next spring, according to Reuters. The AT&T customers who subscribe to HBO will be able to access HBO Max at no extra charge, according to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey.

Stankey revealed to the outlet the company's plans to convert HBO's 35 million U.S. subscriber base to HBO Max, which will reportedly start with the 10 million customers under AT&T. However, this may be a difficult process, as it will require renegotiating deals with current pay TV providers, "who may be wary of helping AT&T snatch their video customers," Reuters writes.

HBO Max will offer HBO shows and new streaming original titles, as well as an archive of Warner Bros.-owned movies, and in-demand TV shows like Friends, which the forthcoming streaming service scooped up at high cost. But HBO Max comes at a slight disadvantage in the competitive streaming wars — the service will likely cost more than the $14.99 the company charges for HBO, though the price has not yet been officially confirmed. That will be significantly higher than new services like Apple TV+ at $4.99 and Disney+ at $6.99, and slightly higher than the $12.99 plan of streaming giant Netflix. However, WarnerMedia hopes that by offering a large portion of its HBO subscriber base free access, it could give the service a boost in its early stages before the company plans to launch a lower-cost ad-supported option in 2021.

WarnerMedia is not the first company to get this idea of free offers: Apple is offering AppleTV+ free for a year with new purchases of Apple products, while Disney+ is boosting its already impressive archive and low price with a free one-year subscription to Verizon customers.

So could WarnerMedia benefit from reportedly partnering with AT&T? AT&T is aiming to reach 80 million global subscribers by 2025 with 50 million in the U.S., according to Reuters, which could certainly boost those HBO Max subscribers. Comparatively, Disney+ is projected to reach 60-90 million subscribers by 2024.

HBO Max is set to launch in Spring 2020.