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HBO Max will bring HBO, DC, Cartoon Network, and Friends to streaming

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Set for spring 2020 launch with lineup of TV and film exclusives

WarnerMedia’s streaming service will be called HBO Max, the AT&T-owned media giant announced Tuesday alongside a lineup of content from the company’s massive portfolio of film and television properties.

That includes the 1990s NBC sitcom Friends, all 236 episodes of which will be departing Netflix to live exclusively on HBO Max when the service launches in spring 2020. In addition, WarnerMedia has secured the exclusive streaming rights for another ’90s classic, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the 2010s teen drama Pretty Little Liars. The company also touted HBO Max as the streaming home of HBO programming, plus a slate of dramas that will air on The CW starting this fall, including Batwoman and the Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene.

Six exclusive films are on the way to HBO Max, WarnerMedia announced: four young adult movies from Greg Berlanti, the prolific television producer (Dawson’s Creek, Riverdale, the Arrowverse) who already has a $400 million TV deal with the company, and two from Hello Sunshine, the production company co-founded by 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,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of the company’s entertainment division, in a news release. “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.”

WarnerMedia also said in the news release that Casey Bloys, president of programming for HBO, will continue to oversee HBO content — and that the company has increased its investment in HBO original programming by “50% over normal spending.” The development of HBO Max will be headed up by Tony Goncalves, the current CEO of the streaming media company Otter Media (which is also a WarnerMedia subsidiary). Andy Forssell, Otter Media’s chief operating officer, will serve as general manager for HBO Max.

WarnerMedia has previously announced a number of original TV series for its streaming service. The shows, which will exist under the banner of Max Originals, include Dune: The Sisterhood, from Denis Villeneuve, director of the 2020 film Dune; Station Eleven, an adaptation of the 2014 post-apocalyptic novel by Emily St. John Mandel; Gremlins, an animated series based on the 1984 film of the same name; and Love Life, a rom-com anthology series starring Anna Kendrick and executive-produced by her and Paul Feig. Other programming on HBO Max will include content from WarnerMedia networks such as CNN, TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim.

WarnerMedia did not announce pricing or platforms for HBO Max, but said that the service will be anchored by HBO programming (in case the name didn’t give that away). That suggests that WarnerMedia will charge at least as much for HBO Max as the $14.99 per month that a subscription to HBO Now currently costs.

That could be a tough sell in a market of streaming services that is growing more crowded every day — especially for people who already have someone’s HBO Go or HBO Now login. Disney is launching its Netflix competitor, Disney Plus, in November for just $6.99 a month. Apple’s streaming service, Apple TV Plus, is also debuting this fall; the company has yet to announce pricing. Same for NBCUniversal, which is rolling out its own streaming service in 2020 (with the exclusive rights to The Office starting in 2021). That’s to say nothing of the existing powers in the space: Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.