Rumored for a while, HBO Max now has an ad-supported streaming option for those looking to save a few dollars in exchange for ads... and missing out on a few features. If you've been keen to see what all the fuss is about with HBO's streaming service, this feels like a good time to check it out for less.
One of our picks in our look at the best TV streaming services out there thanks to its high-quality original programming, HBO Max is now available for $10 per month if you don't mind dealing with adverts. According to HBO, users should expect "an elegant, tasteful ad experience that is respectful of great storytelling for those users who choose it." We're not so sure that any ads are particularly elegant but at least it sounds like such marketing should be relevant to whatever you're watching.
In exchange for ads, you get to enjoy most of what HBO Max offers albeit for $5 less a month than other users. Subscribers will still have access to all of HBO's original programming, as well as its catalog of content from brands including Warner Bros, DC, Turner Classic Movies, and Cartoon Network. Where you'll miss out is when it comes to same-day premiere movies. Movies such as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It won't be available immediately like they are for 'full' HBO Max customers. Instead, you'll have to wait until a later date.
There's also no 4K streaming support with video quality capped at 1080p instead. That could be a problem if you've just invested in one of the best 4K TVs and want to show it off. You also won't be able to watch anything offline.
It's down to you whether those omissions are a deal-breaker for you or not and we suspect for many, it'll be worth the $5 saving to live with these changes. WarnerMedia has stated that you'll only have to deal with a maximum of four minutes per hour of ads and none will play while you're watching HBO originals so it's not too bad a concession to make in exchange for a $5 saving each month.
If you're looking to save even more money, HBO Max also now has the option of pre-paying for a subscription and saving even more. For the ad-supported model, you can pay $99.99 for an annual subscription or $149.99 for the full fat version. Notably, by going for the latter, you're saving about $30 overall (whereas the ad-supported model only saves $10 for the year) to get the full wealth of features so this could work out the best deal of the lot if you enjoy streaming in 4K and want to see movies on the day of release. With plenty more ways to subscribe than before, this could be the time to give HBO Max a try.
Looking at the competition, Netflix remains a slightly cheaper option at $8.99 for the basic service, and there are zero ads. And Disney Plus is even cheaper, at $7.99 per month - with 4K streaming included - although Disney's suite of TV shows is nowhere near as strong.