The cost of ad-free HBO Max recently increased by $1, but third-party services like Hulu and YouTube TV are continuing to offer the ad-free subscription at $14.99 per month for now. While the recent increase in price resulted in the monthly price of ad-free HBO Max rising to $15.99, the change did not affect the ad-supported tier or the cost of an annual plan.
In addition to signing up to HBO Max directly, it is also possible to start a subscription through some third-party services. For example, both Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV allow the bundling of HBO Max with their live TV packages. Even though signing up through a third-party doesn’t tend to result in a lower price, it currently does when signing up to the ad-free tier.
The HBO Max price increase was announced on January 12th and while existing subscribers will see their increase on or after February 11th, the price rise took immediate effect for new subscribers. However, both Hulu and YouTube TV are still advertising and offering HBO Max at the old $14.99 per month rate, $1 less than signing up directly with HBO Max.
For reference, both Hulu and YouTube TV also allow non-live TV users to sign up to HBO Max, and still at the lower rate. For example, HBO Max is one of the subscriptions users can sign up to without a YouTube TV base plan, and it is also one of the services that can be bundled with basic Hulu. If currently considering signing up to ad-free HBO Max then Hulu or YouTube TV might prove to be slightly cheaper options for existing users of either service, and irrespective of whether they are signed up to a live TV plan.
At present, it remains unknown how long these services will continue to offer HBO Max at the lower rate. For example, while it is also possible to sign up to HBO Max through Prime Video channels for $14.99 per month, existing subscribers have reported (via Reddit) receiving notifications from Amazon that the price will increase by $1 in April. It is possible that services like Hulu and YouTube TV will also increase the price of HBO Max around the same time, if not before.
Then again, it is also possible that they might not increase the price at all. HBO Max used to offer a free trial but stopped in 2021. In spite of this change, both Hulu and YouTube TV continue to offer a 7-day HBO Max free trial to all new subscribers, highlighting that it is possible for HBO Max to make changes that don’t affect third-party services.
For those less interested in an ad-free experience, neither Hulu nor YouTube TV offer the option to sign up to the cheaper, ad-supported plan. However, seeing as the ad-supported plan has not been impacted by the recent price change, there’s no real reason to look for an alternative to signing up directly through HBO Max. In our testing, we found the ad load to be particularly light with HBO Max, and would recommend giving the ad-supported tier a try before paying extra for ad-free.
For those that are sure that they will remain subscribed to HBO Max for the entire year, and really wanting ad-free, the annual plan is likely to be worth considering. Priced at $149.99 for the full 12 months, this breaks down to around $12.50 per month on average. For those considering going the yearly subscription route, it is worth keeping in mind that a combined HBO Max and Discovery Plus service is expected to launch in the spring of 2023.