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HBO Max Australia: how to watch the streaming service down under

Want to access HBO Max in Australia? Here’s how to watch The Suicide Squad and a bunch of other exclusive titles right now.

Currently there is no HBO Max in Australia. Due to existing licensing agreements, the American entertainment behemoth has been slow to enter the Australian streaming market. This means that you can find quite a bit of their material spread throughout a few different services – primarily Binge.

No worries, right? Wrong if you want to enjoy certain releases, such as The Suicide Squad, when they are first released.

hbo max in australia
Image: The Suicide Squad / DC Films

Does we even need HBO Max down under?

Because of COVID-19 lockdowns in much of the country, a HBO Max Australia service would be a godsend for bored, isolated Aussies. If times were different, then cinemas would be playing these flicks, but until they can reopen, many people are desperately looking for a workaround. We want that entertainment… guilty as charged.

HBO Max – and high-powered, studio-affiliated streaming services in general – have been the subject of some recent debate within the film industry. With a significant portion of the world still living under COVID-19 lockdowns (or some kind of lighter restrictions), studios have been struggling to find ways to maximise revenue in lieu of traditional theatre screenings being limited.

Disney and Scarlett Johansson have reportedly cut ties after she assessed that the release of Black Widow straight to Disney+ cost her $50 million in contractual payments. Meanwhile, directors Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan have both been very forthcoming about Warner Bros. decision to simultaneously release all their movies to theatres and HBO Max simultaneously.

Yes, every director may not be happy, but for those of us in lockdown, seeing upcoming blockbusters like The Suicide Squad or Villeneuve’s Dune on release day doesn’t sound too shabby at all. So with a ton of A-grade films coming to the streaming service over 2021 and 2022, the argument for HBO Max in Australia only gets stronger.

With all of this in mind, we have created a little guide that explains how to access HBO Max in Australia. Now be warned, it’s a bit convoluted and legally ‘grey’ – but that’s par for the course when it comes to skirting localised restrictions.

At least this method involves money going to those who made the content.

How to access HBO Max in Australia

First, you will have to create an HBO Max account. To do this you will need to have access to either an American credit card (some international cards may work) or a HBO gift card. You will also need to have a real USA postcode, such as Beverly Hills 90210.

If you have an American friend who can help with this process it will make things a lot easier, so go down that route if at all possible. You can always reimburse them, and it’s possible they will be willing to simply share their account.

The next step required to access HBO Max in Australia is setting up a VPN. A VPN will hide your real location online, meaning that it can fool websites into thinking you are located in the USA. VPNs generally cost $4-8 AUD per month, depending on the length of time you agree to subscribe to the service.

Once you have made a choice, set up your VPN (which should be straightforward) and select a server that is located in the USA. If this is working correctly, the HBO Max website will think you are located in the USA, and accordingly lower its defensive walls. Once inside, and properly logged in with the account details you previously obtained, you will have access to HBO Max in Australia.

hbo max australia
Image: HBO Max

Alternative streaming services in Australia

If that whole process sends shivers up your spine then you should listen to your conscience. The Suicide Squad, or any other piece of entertainment for that matter, will eventually find its way to the isolated shores of Australia. Patience is a virtue, and you my friend are virtuous.

Binge is the the closest thing we have to HBO Max in Australia right now. It doesn’t have everything, but it does have a decent selection of the the fantastic dramas that the network built its reputation on.

The Mare of Easttown, Raised By Wolves, Watchmen, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones: the list just keeps on going. It offers a free two week trial too, so giving it a go is a pretty low-risk enterprise.

If you are an individual with more discerning tastes, and prefer to just purchase the entertainment you like, then renting films from YouTube or Amazon Prime isn’t a bad way to go. The selection on each service is huge – the only real drawback being that each film costs between $3-8.

raised by wolves HBO Max Australia
Image: Raised By Wolves / Scott Free Productions

But will HBO Max ever come to Australia?

Foxtel currently owns the exclusive rights to WarnerMedia content, which encompasses all of HBO. A new deal was signed in May 2020 and, despite there being no official confirmation of the length of said contract, it is believed to run for at least another three years (at the time it was signed Foxtel still had two years to go on their existing contract).

Until this contract finishes, it appears that we won’t be seeing HBO Max in Australia. Hopefully Binge can be strengthened and improved so that it does a better job of filling the void it’s meant to.

If that happens then this guide will be rendered largely meaningless, and I’ll be the first to be thankful for that. Until such times though, we must all do as we must.