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HBO Max has climbed it's way up to be considered a top streaming service, but still struggles to compete with Netflix and Hulu.
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HBO Max is the company's latest foray into the world of streaming. The service, which launched in late 2020, combines all the things you love about the premium cable network, while also offering hundreds of shows from other channels -- plus a fair amount of new, original content. HBO Max replaced the aging HBO Go app, although it retains much of the same functionality while expanding its catalog in exciting new directions.
With arguably one of the most enticing on-demand libraries, it should come as no surprise that HBO Max isn't cheap. An ad-supported option is available for $10/mo., but that balloons to $15/mo. if you want everything it has to offer without ads. The platform also doesn't offer a free trial. That means you'll want to be sure it's a good fit before signing up. If you're curious about starting an HBO Max subscription, check out our in-depth HBO Max review to learn everything you need to know about the popular service.
Among the services listed, HBO Max stands out as one of the best streaming services for its cost. Coming in at $15/mo. for the ad-free version, it's nearly twice the cost of Hulu. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, as the amount of movies and shows available through the service are on par with the services listed, and it's roughly the same price as a regular HBO subscription (yes, if you subscribe to HBO, then you already have HBO Max), while it essentially replaces HBO. It is also worth noting that you can only create up to five user profiles with the service, which is small compared to six or seven profiles you can make on services like Hulu and Disney+, respectively.
It's also worth noting that, while HBO Max is a bit expensive for an on-demand service, it's leagues more affordable than any of the services that offer live TV. Both Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV start at $65/mo. for a basic subscription -- which is over six times more expensive than an ad-supported version of HBO Max.
|Starting monthly price||$10/mo.||$9/mo.||$7/mo.||$10/mo.||Free|
|Free trial length||None||None||30 days||30 days||None|
|Live TV feed?||No||No||No||Yes||Some live events|
|Streaming quality||Up to 4K||Up to 4K||Up to 4K||Up to 4K||Up to 4K|
If you don't mind opting for the ad-supported version of HBO Max, your monthly fee is actually very comparable to that of other leading platforms. Its lack of live programming is noticeable, but the roster of HBO exclusive shows and movies should more than make up for the omission.
HBO Max offers two plans. The cheapest option runs $10/mo., is supported by ads, and doesn't include the ability to download shows to watch offline. Programs don't broadcast in 4K with this plan, either. Instead, you'll be stuck with Standard HD streams.
Most subscribers will likely spring for the ad-free version of HBO Max, which costs $15/mo. but offers 4K Ultra HD playback on select movies and the ability to download shows for offline viewing.
The price tag may seem a bit steep compared to some other streamers, but an HBO Max subscription gives you access to one of the largest libraries of TV shows out there. Plus, you can always back out of your subscription if you change your mind. Also keep in mind that though HBO Max doesn't offer a free trial to new users, the service will frequently host promotional preview weekends for interested parties to check out some of the movies and shows they could watch with a subscription.
It's worth noting that you can also login to HBO Max using a cable subscription. If you already pay for HBO as a part of your traditional cable plan you won't have to pay twice. Just use the "Log in with cable provider" option when you're creating an HBO Max account. Only current cable provider credentials will work.
HBO Max offers both regular HBO originals and shows that have been produced exclusively for HBO Max. While the streaming service is still building its catalog of original series and movies, it has managed to create a few water-cooler shows -- including Hacks, Euphoria, And Just Like That, and more. You can find your favorite HBO series on demand here too, including every episode of Game of Thrones, Veep, The Wire, and more.
HBO Max also offers theater releases faster than most other streamers. In fact, the streamer offers new movies 45 days after their theatrical release, including new blockbusters like The Batman, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Elvis, Creed III, and more.
HBO Max boasts one of the most impressive lineups of just about any streaming service. Both the ad-supported and ad-free subscriptions give you access to over 10,000 hours of iconic movies and shows, with more original content always in development. There's so much to dive into with HBO Max that it might be difficult for you to figure out what you'll binge first. Among your many options are shows and movies from DC, Cartoon Network, Sesame Workshop, CrunchyRoll, Studio Ghibli, Turner Classic Movies, and more.
Currently, HBO Max's TV show lineup features more than 30 original shows, from a wide variety of genres including reality, docuseries, kids programming, and more. Selena Gomez released the first season of her reality cooking show Selena + Chef on HBO Max back in 2020, the spooky sci-fi drama Raised By Wolves is sure to catch the attention of Game of Thrones fanatics, and Kaley Cuoco's thriller The Flight Attendant is a hit for viewers seeking an addictive mystery.
Meanwhile, HBO Max features HBO's extensive library, meaning The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, and more are just a click away. And if you're a fan of The Matrix, you'll be able to enjoy The Matrix Resurrection through HBO Max.
One surprising thing about HBO Max is its lack of add-on content. The service won't nickel-and-dime you for additional access or optional features, and once you've signed up for the ad-free tier, you'll be able to experience everything HBO Max has to offer.
Here are some of the most popular TV shows and movies that are exclusive to HBO Max:
Made For Love
It's A Sin
Roald Dahl's The Witches
There's No I in Threesome
Esme & Roy
The Sex Lives of College Girls
Our Flag Means Death
As it stands, HBO Max does not offer any sort of live programming -- and that includes sports. In 2021, a streaming deal was struck with the NHL to allow its games to be streamed via HBO Max, however nothing of note has been released as part of the collaboration. It's possible HBO Max will see the arrival of live sports in the future, but movies and documentaries about sports will have to do for now.
HBO Max allows up to three users to watch the service at once on up to five user profiles. This is standard across any subscription plan with the service. If a fourth user attempts to log in and stream, they will receive a "streaming on too many devices" message. To proceed, you'll need to log into your HBO Max account from a mobile device or a computer and stop the streaming on one of the other devices in use. It may take a few minutes before you're allowed to begin streaming on a new device.
Understandably, this could result in some familial disputes -- you may want to negotiate watch time with another account member instead of shutting down their stream unannounced.
HBO Max recently made its way to Amazon Fire and Roku devices. Today, the service is available on most streaming devices. See below for a list of devices you can use to watch HBO Max:
Amazon Fire tablets (fourth generation or later)
Amazon Fire TV (with Fire OS 5.3.6 or later)
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TVs (Insignia HD, Insignia 4K Ultra HD, Toshiba HD, Toshiba 4K Ultra HD)
Android phones and tablets (with Android OS 5+)
Android TV/Google TV (OS 5+)
Apple TV (fourth generation or later)
Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (with iOS 12.2+)
LG Smart TV
PC and Mac computers (Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox)
Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
Roku (with OS 9.3 and higher)
Samsung TV (2016+)
Spectrum WorldBox (in select locations)
Vizio Smart TV (2018 models or later)
Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S
Xfinity X1 and Flex
HBO Max isn't cheap, but a wealth of content more than makes up for the expense. Whether you're searching for exclusive movies, kid-friendly TV shows, or original series you won't find anywhere else, HBO Max has steadily built a catalog that's among the best in the business.
Meanwhile, HBO Max is a premium streaming service that will provide thousands of hours of entertainment for a relatively reasonable price. It's a shame there's no free trial for the platform, but most viewers are bound to get plenty of value out of an HBO Max subscription. Overall, we think it's worth the ad-free $15/mo. subscription fee, especially if you don't already have HBO through your cable provider.