By Joe Flint 

WarnerMedia's new streaming service HBO Max will launch after Memorial Day weekend, joining an already crowded market of streaming services as traditional media giants attempt to compete with Netflix Inc. and establish their own direct-to-consumer businesses

The new platform will debut on Wednesday, May 27, WarnerMedia, a unit of AT&T Inc., said Tuesday.

At a cost of $14.99 a month, HBO Max is the priciest of the entries in the so-called streaming wars. The service, which includes all content from HBO as well as original content and popular reruns such as "Friends" and "South Park," is free to current HBO subscribers.

"Consumers will quickly see that HBO Max is set apart by a foundation of loved brands built over decades but stitched together with a distinctive voice and product experience," said HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Reilly.

Because the coronavirus has forced the shutdown of the majority of television and movie production, HBO Max isn't launching with the slate of new content it was planning. A much-anticipated reunion of the cast of "Friends" has been delayed, as have several new comedies and dramas in development at the service.

Among the new shows and original movies that will be available at launch are "Love Life," a romantic comedy starring Anna Kendrick, and new "Looney Tunes" cartoons and the documentary "On the Record" about the accusations of sexual harassment against music producer Russell Simmons.

With cord-cutting on the rise, companies such as WarnerMedia see a growing need to be able to bypass traditional cable and satellite distributors to reach customers.

Earlier this month, Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal began a slow rollout of its streaming service Peacock, which is being offered for free to its customers and some other distributors. Peacock is also offering a $4.99-a-month version with ads and a $9.99 commercial-free version to all consumers, which will launch in mid-July.

Last November, Walt Disney Co. rolled out its Disney+ streaming service at a monthly fee of $6.99. Earlier this month, Disney said the platform had passed the 50 million paid-subscriber mark world-wide.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 21, 2020 09:46 ET (13:46 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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