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Daily Crunch: HBO Max is coming in 2020

By Anthony Ha

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. AT&T’s new streaming service HBO Max arrives in 2020, will be the exclusive home of ‘Friends’

Hooray, we don’t have to call it the Untitled WarnerMedia streaming service anymore! Instead, it’s going to be named HBO Max, and it will launch next spring with more than 10,000 hours of content available to subscribers.

The service won’t be limited to HBO content — hence the availability of “Friends” — but the naming indicates how important HBO as a TV brand is to consumers and to parent company AT&T.

2. Visa funds $40M for no-password crypto vault Anchorage

Visa and Andreessen Horowitz are betting even bigger on cryptocurrency, funding a big round for fellow Facebook Libra Association member Anchorage’s omnimetric blockchain security system.

3. Nintendo Switch Lite’s trade-off of whimsy for practicality is a good one

Nintendo revealed a new Switch Lite version of its current-generation console today, which attaches the controllers permanently, shrinks the hardware a bit and adds a touch more battery life. It also takes away the “Switch” part of the equation, because you can only use it handheld, instead of attached to a TV or as a unique tabletop gaming experience.

Opera Opay Nigeria

4. Opera founded startup OPay raises $50M for mobile finance in Nigeria

OPay’s raise tracks greater influence in African tech from China.

5. Flaws in hospital anesthesia and respiratory devices allow remote tampering

Security researchers have found a vulnerability in a networking protocol used in popular hospital anesthesia and respiratory machines, which they say if exploited could be used to maliciously tamper with the devices.

6. Snapchat announces new shows from Serena Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others

The shows will begin airing this month. They’re all exclusive to Snapchat, and many of them come from creators who have a substantial following on other platforms

7. Understanding mental health in Silicon Valley, with professional coach and former investor Jerry Colonna

In a conversation with Connie Loizos, Colonna discusses how previously developed standards of success can impact your ability to lead and find fulfillment at work. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

WarnerMedia is making a ‘Dune’ series for its streaming service

By Anthony Ha

WarnerMedia has placed a straight-to-series order for “Dune: The Sisterhood,” a show based on Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novels and tied to the big-screen “Dune” adaptation coming from Warner Bros. next year.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s director Denis Villeneuve will also be helming the show’s pilot, which is being scripted by one of the movie’s writers, Jon Spaihts.

“Dune” tells the story of warring noble families against the backdrop of the desert planet Arrakis. Since its publication in 1965, it’s become one of the most famous science fiction novels of all time. It was eventually followed up by five sequels written by Herbert himself, as well as countless prequels and additional sequels from his son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson. It was also turned into a film directed by David Lynch — who was notoriously unhappy with the results — and later into a Sci Fi Channel miniseries.

For the new movie, Villeneuve (who previously directed “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049″) has lined up an insanely impressive cast that includes Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem.

Unlike the films, it sounds like “The Sisterhood” will not be a straightforward adaptation of Herbert’s novel. Instead, it will focus on the Bene Gesserit, the titular sisterhood whose secret breeding plan ultimately results in the birth of “Dune” protagonist Paul Atreides, and whose formation was depicted in one of those prequels. (Anderson and Brian Herbert are both producers on the series, but it’s not clear whether the show will be adapting their work.)

Meanwhile, a recent report form The Wall Street Journal suggests that WarnerMedia’s streaming strategy has been shifting away from a three-tiered plan and will instead be limited to a single subscription service that would combine HBO, Cinemax and the Warner Bros. library for a price between $16 and $17 per month.

But it seems original content is still a part of that plan — and like Disney (which is creating streaming shows tied to its Star Wars and Marvel film franchises), WarnerMedia is looking for some movie-TV synergy to kickstart those efforts.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia might be punting on its original streaming service plans

By Kirsten Korosec

WarnerMedia’s plans for a three-tiered streaming service appear to be in flux. The AT&T-owned company is reportedly scrapping that idea and opting instead to offer HBO, Cinemax and the library of Warner Bros. content in a single subscription service that would cost between $16 and $17 a month, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

The service would first be offered as a beta product later this year and could be offered broadly as early as next March.

TechCrunch will update the article if WarnerMedia responds to a request for comment.

This latest development follows a number of changes over at WarnerMedia, including the departure of HBO CEO Richard Pleper and Turner president David Levy.

Former NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has joined as chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, putting him in charge of HBO, TBS, truTV and the WarnerMedia streaming service.

AT&T first opened up in November about its plans for its WarnerMedia streaming service. The company said at the time that the service would have three tiers — an entry-level, movie-focused service; a premium tier with original programming and blockbusters; and a bundle that includes them both.

During an earnings call a few months later,  AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson expounded on the service and said it would have a “two-sided business model.” The idea was to include subscription-based, commercial-free programming on the high-end as well as an entry-level portion of the service that will be ad-supported, according to the Stephenson’s comments at the time.

Whatever the structure ultimately ends up being, the aim is to leverage the entertainment properties AT&T gained by way of its Time Warner acquisition last year.