HBO Max Enters The Streaming Wars

A new competitor has entered the streaming wars – and it’s a big player.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia division has officially launched its "HBO Max" streaming service, taking direct aim at Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) at a time when coronavirus lockdowns have boosted demand for streaming even as rising unemployment rates have impacted disposable incomes.

HBO Max launches at a time when people are stuck at home without access to theater, live music, shopping or sporting events. That situation helped Netflix add 15.8 million new customers in the first three months of the year, more than double what it had forecast.

But with film and TV productions halted for the time being, HBO has postponed dozens of new releases - most notably a "Friends" reunion special. If HBO Max does not resume production by this fall, the service could start to see a shortage of original content as early as January, according to the company.

At $15 per month, HBO Max is more expensive than the $7 per month Disney+ streaming service and the $13 per month standard Netflix plan. Still, WarnerMedia hopes to sign-up 80 million HBO Max subscribers worldwide by 2025.

HBO Max will feature 10,000 hours of content from WarnerMedia brands and libraries such as Warner Bros, New Line Cinema and the Cartoon Network. At launch it will include six original titles, including “Love Life,” a romantic comedy series featuring Anna Kendrick, and a Sesame Street spinoff show called "The Not Too Late Show with Elmo."