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HBO Max Review 2022: Everything to Know About the Streaming Service

HBO Max has climbed it's way up to be considered a top streaming service, but still struggles to compete with Netflix and Hulu.

Jon Bitner

Pros Cons
  • Exclusive access to HBO originals
  • Consistently adding new content
  • Two pricing tiers available
  • Same-day theater releases ending
  • No live sports programming
  • No free trial available

What is HBO Max

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 libraries on the streaming marketplace, 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. The platform also doesn't offer a free trial. That means you'll want to be sure it's a good fit for your needs 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.

How much does HBO Max cost?

HBO Max offers two plans. The cheapest option runs $10/mo., is supported by ads, and doesn't include Warner Bros. 2021 movie premieres or 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 UHD playback on select movies, the ability to download shows for offline viewing, and same day access to Warner Bros. 2021 releases.

Those numbers may seem a bit steep compared to some others on the market, but an HBO Max subscription gives you access to one of the largest libraries of television 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 on various cable networks.

What to Watch on HBO Max?

HBO Max boasts one of the most impressive lineups of any streaming service around. 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. This is a good thing when you consider the price you'll have to pay to gain access to the service, but becomes a bad one when you think about how much time you'll likely spend on the couch bingeing content from DC, Cartoon Network, Sesame Workshop, CrunchyRoll, TCM, 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 was a hit for those looking for an addictive mystery. Obviously, 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.

Throughout 2021, HBO Max has launched a variety of Warner Bros. movies the same day they launch in theaters. Unfortunately, that perk isn't returning for 2022. Subscribers will now have to wait 45 days after a theatrical release before HBO Max can add it to the service.

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:

  • Locked Down
  • Infinity Train
  • It's A Sin
  • Fake Famous
  • Doom Patrol
  • Love Life
  • Roald Dahl's The Witches
  • There's No I in Threesome
  • Search Party
  • Esme & Roy

Does HBO Max Offer Sports?

As it stands, HBO Max does not offer any sort of live programming – and that includes sports. This might change in the near future, as both the HBO Max team and WarnerMedia understand live events are key to keeping viewers engaged with their service. Earlier in 2021, a 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 2022 will see the arrival of sports on HBO Max, but for now subscribers are limited to an on-demand catalog.

HBO Max Compared to Other TV Streaming Services

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) and 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 even seven profiles you can make on services like Netflix and Hulu.

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 YouTube 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.

HBO MaxNetflixHuluParamount+Peacock
Starting monthly price $9.99$8.99$6.99$9.99Free
Free trial length NoneNone1 mo.30 daysNone
On-demand content? YesYesYesYesYes
Live TV feed? NoNoNoYesSome live events
Streaming quality HD to 4KHD to 4KHD to 4KHD to 4KHD 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. It's 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 Features

There's a lot to love about HBO Max, but with so much content it's easy to get lost looking for something to stream. Fortunately, navigating through the mountains of programming featured on the service is made easy by its interface. If you're looking for a particular movie or show, all you need to do is launch the HBO Max app and head over to one of the 10 content hubs and search for what you're looking for.

You can also search for things to watch using the app's drop-down menu that categorizes content based on genre, upcoming releases, series, and more. This menu also features a "Last Chance" section that organizes all the movies and shows that are set to leave the service soon as well, a feature most streamers don't have. This is a helpful category that will remind you to watch some of the upcoming Warner Bros. movies set to be released on HBO Max before they are removed from the service.

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, but an important callout for households with three or more people. Like most streaming services, HBO Max gives users the ability to assign certain restrictions and blocks to user profiles that are specific for kids or younger members of the family. And if you opt for the ad-free version, you'll be able to download shows and movies to watch offline when you don't have an internet connection.

Last, you should know that some HBO Max content can be streamed in 4K. Most of the Warner Bros. movies the service has released and various HBO Max original shows are 4K compatible, and the service has announced plans to expand its 4K library. Remember – this 4K content is limited to the ad-free subscription ($15/mo.) and you'll also need a device compatible with 4K resolutions.

HBO Max Supported Devices

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 (4th gen 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 UHD, Toshiba HD, Toshiba 4K UHD)
  • Android phones and tablets (with Android OS 5+)
  • Android TV (OS 5+)
  • Apple TV (4th gen or later)
  • Chromebooks
  • Chromecast
  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (with iOS 12.2+)
  • LG Smart TV
  • PC and Mac computers
  • PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
  • Roku streaming devices (with OS 9.3 and above)
  • 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

Is HBO Max Worth It?

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. Expect to see a few big changes in 2022, as live sports are apparently on the table and it's possible we'll see the service scramble to replace the Warner Bros. same-day movie deal that expires at the end of 2021. As it stands, however, 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.