HBO Max $10 & $15 Differences Compared: Which Plan Is Best?

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An HBO Max subscription starts at $9.99, $5 per month cheaper than the standard plan. While there is now a cheaper option for streaming HBO Max shows and movies over the internet, the reduced subscription tier does come with some compromises, including the addition of ads, the inability to download videos, and the exclusion of some newer movies.

The suggestion that AT&T and WarnerMedia planned to launch a cheaper HBO Max tier had surfaced for some time, both officially and unofficially. In more recent months, WarnerMedia has started to provide more details on the cheaper option, even confirming the new tier would become available in early June. As expected, the cheaper HBO Max subscription did launch in June 2021, with consumers able to sign up to HBO Max from as little as $9.99 per month.

Those that want the best experience possible can still opt for the more expensive $14.99 per month plan, with the service offering both options when signing up through the HBO Max website. Subscribers can actually reduce the cost of either the $9.99 or $14.99 per month rates by subscribing and paying on an annual basis. For example, signing up to the ad-supported annual plan costs $99.99 per year, bringing the cost of each month down to $8.33. Likewise, there is the option to sign up to the premium HBO Max annual plan for $149.99, bringing the cost of each month down to $12.49.

HBO Max $10 and $15 differences

There are some notable differences between the two plans which should make it easier for consumers to choose which subscription option is right for them. The first and most notable is the inclusion of ads with the $9.99 per month plan. While AT&T and WarnerMedia says the ad load is light compared to other services, those individuals and households wanting access to ad-free shows and movies will want to consider the premium subscription.

The next major difference is downloads. Similar to Netflix and select other streaming services, HBO Max allows subscribers to download content to watch offline. However, this is a feature that’s been reserved for premium subscribers. Those opting for the cheaper $9.99 per month plan won’t be able to download any HBO Max shows or movies to watch without an internet connection. Another notable difference is the playback quality in general. HBO Max has confirmed that only the premium $14.99 per month plan includes access to 4K videos. In contrast, the ad-supported plan is resigned to HD quality. For reference, not all of the content available on HBO Max is available in 4K, so this difference will only affect select titles.

A final difference between the two plans is access to the latest Warner Bros. movie releases. Throughout 2021, HBO Max subscribers have had access to all the latest Warner Bros. movies the same day they arrive in theaters. Generally, this is limited-time access, as the movies tend to only remain available to stream for the first 30 days. Either way, subscribers to the $9.99 per month plan won’t have access to these movies at all. It is worth noting that WarnerMedia currently doesn’t plan to continue releasing new Warner Bros. movies to cinemas and HBO Max on the same day in 2022, so this is only a temporary difference between the two HBO Max subscription tiers.

Which HBO Max plan is right for you?

Choosing between the two plans will primarily depend on the needs of an individual subscriber or household. While the newer movies are a big selling point for HBO Max, that’s only for now. For subscribers that want access to those newer movies, then there’s no issue with signing up at the higher $14.99 per month rate and then canceling before the end of the year and then signing up again to the cheaper $9.99 per month HBO Max plan to save on the cost.

What does matter more over the long term is the inclusion of ads and the ability to download. For individuals that want to be able to watch ad-free HBO Max shows and movies wherever they are, and regardless of whether they have an internet connection, the $14.99 per month is going to be the better option. For those less concerned with watching offline or sitting through ad breaks, then the cheaper $9.99 per month HBO Max subscription is likely to be the best choice.

John Finn
John Finn

By John Finn

John Finn is the Founder and Editor of Streaming Better, a platform created in 2019 to help consumers navigate the complicated live TV streaming and subscription service market.

John has been covering technology for various online publications since 2014. After originally covering the wider tech industry as a writer and editor, John now spends his time focusing on the emerging video-streaming market, including live TV streaming, SVOD, AVOD, FAST, and TVOD services.

In a bid to keep up to date on the industry, John actively subscribes to multiple streaming services at the same time. However, John continues to advocate that the best approach for consumers is to rotate between streaming services as needed.

A Psychology graduate from England, who now lives in the US, John previously worked in the aviation industry as an airline reviewer. While reviewing airlines isn't quite the same as reviewing devices and streaming services, John brings the same analytical eye to all of his reviews and industry analysis, along with a special emphasis on what's best for the consumer.

Connect with John
X: @J_Finns

4 replies on “HBO Max $10 & $15 Differences Compared: Which Plan Is Best?”

So this article has no information you can’t get from HBO’s website? “AT&T and WarnerMedia had previously said the ad load will be light compared to other services.” So you did not experience the ad load yourself, so you have no information. When in a show or movie the ads play, how long they last, nothing helpful.

@Dave you should have breakfast before you start complaining about a free service that you already knew the information for in the first place. You “could” have went to HBO’s website yet you chose to skip breakfast and b*tch on this website. Please do yourself a favor and STFU 🤫

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