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How to stream HBO Max content in Australia: Full guide
HBO Max won't be coming to Australia any time soon, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on its award-winning TV shows.
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Thanks to hit shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld, and more recently the Friends Reunion, HBO is widely regarded as the home of premium television. Despite its old streaming service HBO Now never arriving Down Under, Australian fans have still been able to binge on all the HBO content they desire through Foxtel.
However, in May 2020, the standalone HBO Max app launched in the USA. So, how did that change the way we watch HBO Max content in Australia? Well, you can still watch it through Foxtel. But for a more HBO Max-like experience, you might find more joy in the newly launched Binge service. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know in order to get Binge and to watch HBO Max TV shows in Australia.
What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is a streaming service dedicated to HBO programming. It is essentially the same concept as what we've seen from Disney with its Disney+ service and with NBC Universal with its Peacock service. It's a direct portal between HBO and its customers. Not just for all its original TV shows and movies, but also for some notable licensed content, too. For example, the highly anticipated Friends Reunion.
HBO Max released in the USA on 27 May 2020. It cost US$14.95/month (approximately $24/month). Those consumers who subscribe to the old HBO Now service either directly, through AT&T TV or Charter Communications were upgraded to HBO Max at the time it launched.
Is HBO Max launching in Australia?
There are no plans for HBO Max to release in Australia. The door has been somewhat left ajar for a launch in the distant future. WarnerMedia, the parent company for HBO and therefore the owner of HBO Max, has filed a trademark for the service in Australia. But this could be little more than due diligence.
In lieu of an HBO Max Australia launch, a bidding war occurred between previous rights holder, Foxtel and its main streaming video on-demand rival in Australia, Stan. That battle was won by Foxtel. And shortly before the release of HBO Max in the USA, Foxtel launched a sister service called Binge.
In doing so, Binge effectively became Australia's HBO Max. Although as you will discover in our detailed review, it offers a heck of a lot more than just HBO Max content.
How to watch HBO Max content in Australia
While Stan has been able to pinch HBO original Love Life off of Foxtel, it was actually made by Lionsgate so it's really an outlier. So as it stands now HBO Max content will be available in Australia exclusively through Foxtel and Binge. This will include all the original content, both new and legacy TV shows and movies from HBO and HBO Max. It will be available through the Drama pack on Foxtel Now and Foxtel iQ, and from 25 May, 2020, or in Binge.
How much does HBO content cost in Australia?
Below we will detail how you can look to tune into HBO Max in the USA via a VPN, but that approach is hardly worth it. The service will still cost you around $24/month, plus you're at risk of having your subscription terminated at any moment or just suffering terrible streaming speeds.
The better alternative is either Binge or Foxtel Now streaming apps. Of the two Binge has the slightly longer free trial period and is significantly cheaper. Both come with free trials as listed above
If HD or multiple devices doesn't phase you, then you could opt for Binge's Basic package for just $10/month with 1 stream. The HD options are $14/month and $18/month respectively, the only difference is that the more expensive option allows for 4 simultaneous streams rather than 2.
For Foxtel Now you will need to get the Pop & Lifestyle base back ($25/month) and then add the Drama pack ($10/month) to get your HBO streaming fix.
You can kick things off with a free 10-day trial to see if it's right for you. And if you decide to stay on, there is no contract, so you can cancel your subscription anytime.
In terms of devices both are available on computers, smartphones and tablets, Telstra TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast and Airplay. Foxtel Now has a few additional devices including PS4, numerous smart TVs (though Binge is working on adding these), and the Foxtel Now box. You can see more on Binge vs Foxtel here.
You can also take the more traditional Foxtel iQ route. This costs more and requires the installation of cables and a set-top box at your home. However, it does have the benefits of a more consistent connection, 4K support and the ability to record to the device. You can find out more about Foxtel iQ here.
What content does HBO Max have?
WarnerMedia is reported to have over 45,000 hours of legacy programing in its vault, but only released a curated collection of 10,000 hours of programing on HBO Max at launch. A further US$4 billion will be invested by AT&T (owner of Time Warner and, in turn, WarnerMedia) in the service by 2024.
We're already starting to see the benefits of that investment, which we detail just below.
In addition to all the great HBO content, the network has set up heaps of deals with other providers. This includes films from Warner Bros. and New Line, as well as TV shows from Sesame Street, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Looney Tunes.
As such US subscribers will get access to non-HBO content such as Friends, Doctor Who, South Park, The Big Bang Theory, Nancy Drew, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Rick and Morty through the HBO Max service.
In Australia, however, it's only the HBO content that will 100% be shown on Binge and Foxtel. Non-HBO content must be bid on separately and we have seen these shows appear elsewhere, including Stan and Amazon Prime Video.
List of HBO Max Originals
The list of HBO Max Originals wasn't big at launch, but it's growing quickly. As of mid-2021, this is what you'll find on HBO Max, and therefore most likely Foxtel and Binge, exclusively.
|Content||Category||Genre||TV or Movie||More Seasons Expected?|
|12 Dates of Christmas||Reality TV||Dating show||TV||Yes|
|A World of Calm||Reality TV||Well-being||TV||TBC|
|Adventure Time: Distant Lands||Kids & Family||Science fantasy adventure comedy||TV||Yes|
|An American Pickle||Comedy||Comedy||Movie||na|
|Beth Stelling: Girl Daddy||Comedy||Stand-up||Movie||na|
|Charm City Kings||Drama||Drama||Movie||na|
|Chelsea Handler: Evolution||Comedy||Stand-up||Movie||na|
|Class Action Park||Documentary||Amusement park accidents||Movie||na|
|Close Enough||Adults Animation||Surreal comedy||TV||Yes|
|Colin Quinn & Friends: A Parking Lot Comedy Show||Comedy||Stand-up||Movie||na|
|Conan O'Brien's Team Coco Presents: James Veitch: Straight to VHS||Comedy||Stand-up||Movie||na|
|Craftopia||Reality TV||Game show||TV||Yes|
|Doom Patrol||Comedy||Superhero comedy||TV||Yes|
|Ellen's Next Great Designer||Reality TV||Reality||TV||TBC|
|Esme & Roy||Kids & Family||Animated fantasy comedy/Education||TV||TBC|
|Full Bloom||Reality TV||Reality competition||TV||Yes|
|HA Comedy Festival: The Art of Comedy||Comedy||Stand-up||Movie||na|
|Haute Dog||Reality TV||Reality competition||TV||TBC|
|Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults||Docuseries||Docuseries||TV||No|
|House of Ho||Docuseries||Docusoap||TV||TBC|
|Infinity Train||Adults Animation||Animated science fantasy/mystery||TV||No|
|Karma[a]||Reality TV||Game show||TV||TBC|
|Legendary||Reality TV||Reality competition||TV||Yes|
|Let Them All Talk||Comedy||Comedy-drama||Movie||na|
|LFG||Documentary||Soccer gender pay gap||Movie||na|
|Locked Down||Comedy||Romantic comedy heist||Movie||na|
|Looney Tunes Cartoons||Kids & Family||Slapstick comedy||TV||Yes|
|Love Life||Comedy||Romantic comedy anthology||TV||Yes|
|Made for Love||Comedy||Dark comedy||TV||TBC|
|Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don't Let the Pigeon Do Storytime Shorts!||Kids & Family||Family comedy||TV||TBC|
|My Sesame Street Friends||Kids & Family||Education||TV||TBC|
|No Sudden Move||Drama||Crime thriller||Movie||na|
|On the Record||Documentary||Sexual abuse||Movie||na|
|On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries||Documentary||Politics||Movie||na|
|Persona: The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests||Documentary||Personality tests||Movie||na|
|Raised by Wolves||Drama||Science fiction||TV||Yes|
|Ravi Patel's Pursuit of Happiness||Docuseries||Lifestyle||TV||TBC|
|Rose Matafeo: Horndog||Comedy||Stand-up||Movie||na|
|Search Party||Comedy||Satirical dark comedy||TV||Yes|
|Selena + Chef||Reality TV||Cooking show||TV||Yes|
|Sesame Street||Kids & Family||Education||TV||Yes|
|Stylish with Jenna Lyons||Reality TV||Reality||TV||TBC|
|Summer Camp Island||Kids & Family||Animated fantasy comedy||TV||Yes|
|That Damn Michael Che||Comedy||Sketch comedy||TV||TBC|
|The Big Shot with Bethenny||Reality TV||Reality competition||TV||TBC|
|The Flight Attendant||Drama||Mystery drama/Dark comedy||TV||Yes|
|The Fungies!||Kids & Family||Fantasy comedy||TV||Yes|
|The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo||Kids & Family||Talk show||TV||Yes|
|The Witches||Comedy||Fantasy comedy||Movie||na|
|There Is No "I" in Threesome||Documentary||Intimacy||Movie||na|
|Tig n' Seek||Kids & Family||Workplace comedy||TV||TBC|
|Tom and Jerry Special Shorts[a]||Kids & Family||Slapstick comedy||TV||TBC|
|Zack Snyder's Justice League||Drama||Superhero||Movie||na|
Note: The Looney Tunes Cartoons aren't classics, but freshly made shorts that pay homage to the greats of yesteryear. Also, Frayed has previously released in the UK and Australian markets. It's unclear at this stage whether the date above is just the US debut of the initial season, or if it will also see the release of a Season 2.
HBO Max Warner Bros. deal
On 4 December 2020 Warner Bros. announced that in the US it would be releasing 17 of its theatrical releases on HBO Max in 2021. There is one film that wreleased direct to the service in 2020, which was Wonder Woman 1984. It became available on Boxing Day in Australia.
Other blockbusters going straight to HBO Max with only brief - if any - time in cinemas beforehand is impressive. It includes Matrix 4, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune, The Suicide Squad, Mortal Kombat, Zach Snyder's Justice League, Godzilla vs Kong and a Sopranos prequel. Each film will be available for one month of once they are released. There's no additional cost for these titles.
How to stream HBO Max in Australia with a VPN
HBO Now, HBO's streaming service, gives users access to the channel’s entire library of content – that means unlimited access to every episode of the network’s original series, plus hit movies, sport, documentaries and comedy specials. The service launched back in 2015 in the US. HBO continues to expand its streaming platforms in international markets under different brands – mainly HBO GO, but also HBO Nordic for countries in Northern Europe, for instance. Unfortunately there’s no HBO streaming service in Australia.
Tech-savvy users may be able to go around that and access HBO Now by using a VPN service to bypass geo-blocking. However, HBO is known to kick out users who don’t reside in territories where the streaming service is available, so there’s no guarantee it will work. This is somewhere in that grey area between legal and illegal, so proceed at your own risk. HBO Now costs US$14.99/month and is available on a variety of devices.
The safest and more accessible way to stream HBO content in Australia is to subscribe to Binge. There's no need to sign up to any packs. Straight away you're guaranteed access to HBO’s large library of original shows, from Game of Thrones to Big Little Lies. Otherwise you can opt for Foxtel Now and add on other services such as sports.
HBO Max free trial
There is no HBO Max free trial for Australians, but you can of course get HBO content using the Foxtel Now or Binge free trial as previously mentioned. During this period you can watch content from all the channel packs available on the platform. If you find either service isn't for you, simply cancel online before the end of the trial period. Otherwise, once the trial is over, you will only have access to the channel packs you are subscribed to.
Popular HBO content
Game of Thrones in undoubtedly HBO’s biggest hit. The last season of the series may have come but millions still binge its eight seasons. The epic fantasy drama, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, has a huge fan base all across the globe and manages to remain appointment television in a time where streaming is king and watching on demand is the new black. For the night is dark and full of spoilers.
Besides Game of Thrones, HBO has produced a lot of acclaimed content over the years. Most popular titles include dramas The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Westworld, Big Little Lies and Deadwood. Meanwhile, on the comedy front, we find titles like Veep, Girls, Silicon Valley, Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Most HBO shows are available to stream on demand with Binge and Foxtel Now. The list even includes Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the series that reshaped late-night TV and is scheduled to go on at least until 2020.
In recent years, HBO has made up for the conclusion of Game of Thrones with exciting new and returning originals. Here and Now follows a multicultural family as one of the children starts to have weird visions. Barry is a sitcom centring on a hitman who is contemplating an acting career. Fahrenheit 451, based on the classic novel of the same name, is about a young fireman in a country where books are banned and firemen burn any they see on sight. It stars Michael B. Jordan. Next there's Sharp Objects, based on the popular book by Gillian Flynn.
As for returning favourites, 2020 will bring HBO fans new seasons of Silicon Valley, Westworld and Insecure. Hit shows True Detective, Veep and Big Little Lies will continue, with new seasons likely to hit the air in 2020.
History of HBO
The oldest and longest continuously operating pay television service in the US, Home Box Office (or HBO for short) has been consistently expanding in new markets all around the world since the early 90s. The channel's programming mainly consists of theatrically released movies and original television series, as well as the occasional concert special, documentary, made-for-TV flick, boxing match or stand-up comedy show.
What makes the channel stand out from the crowd, besides its quality content, is the fact that HBO doesn't carry traditional commercials. Instead, the network runs promos for upcoming shows/movies as well as behind-the-scenes featurettes made to pique interest in its original programming. As a result, HBO can afford to broadcast more explicit content that wouldn't normally be allowed to air on broadcast television: think profanity, explicit sex scenes and graphic violence. All the good stuff.
The channel's original programming earned countless major award nominations, including Emmys and Golden Globes. Despite The Larry Sanders Show being HBO's flagship series in the 90s, The Sopranos is arguably the show that pushed HBO to the next level, earning both critical acclaim and a huge audience. Ever since, HBO has been known as the home of quality television. And thanks to hit shows like Game of Thrones, the channel is more relevant than ever, even in the current era of peak TV.
Prior to the release of HBO Max, HBO offered two streaming services in the US. HBO GO was free with a subscription through participating TV providers, while HBO Now was a standalone streaming service carrying HBO content. Those weren't available in Australia either. Instead, Foxtel offered its own streaming platform, Foxtel Now, which gives users access to HBO content.
Frequently asked questions
Will HBO stream in 4K?
HBO Now and Foxtel Now don’t support 4K resolution at the moment. However, content is available in HD.
Will HBO Max come to Australia?
Despite HBO steadily rolling out streaming platforms across the globe, there are no plans for HBO Max to arrive in Australia yet. That’s mainly due to HBO’s deal with Foxtel.
Can I stream HBO content with Chromecast?
Yes. Both HBO Max and Foxtel Now work with Chromecast.
Can HBO Max be used on multiple devices?
Yes, you can use HBO Max on multiple devices at the same time. The service supports simultaneous streams but doesn’t specify the limit; if you exceed it you will receive an error message. Similarly, Foxtel Now allows you to stream on two devices at once so you can share your password with a loved one.
Where is HBO Max available?
HBO Max is only available in the US from 27 May 2020. However, HBO has streaming platforms all around the world, generally under the brand HBO GO. The service is available in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
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