The HBO Max ad-free plan is a good option for those willing to pay more each month to skip the ads. However, a viewing experience without commercials is only one of the benefits of going with HBO Max’s more expensive plan. Having a clearer view of the differences can help to determine whether it is worth paying more, or whether subscribers are better off with the cheaper, ad-supported plan.
HBO Max has been around since early 2020 and continues to be a popular subscription service. In the beginning there was only the one HBO Max plan available, resulting in no real choice for consumers other than opting to pay for an annual subscription to save on the overall cost. However, that changed in 2021 when HBO Max added a second monthly subscription option. The newer plan is cheaper each month, but comes with fewer benefits.
In spite of there now being two HBO Max subscriptions options, the ad-free plan is largely considered to be the standard plan. In other words, this is the original plan HBO Max has always offered and is priced at $14.99 per month. In addition, it is also a true ad-free plan. Unlike some other services, those paying for the more expensive plan can expect a completely commercial-free viewing experience, whether watching show episodes, movies, or any of the service’s originals.
The ability to skip the ads is not the only benefit of upgrading, and for some subscribers or families, the other benefits may offer enough reason on their own to justify the added cost. Besides the ad-free viewing experience, the more expensive HBO Max plan also includes 4K playback and the ability to download videos to watch offline at a later time. Both of these can be useful features, but only if they are needed, and used frequently enough.
Should you pay more for ad-free HBO Max?
Whether it is worth upgrading from the ad-supported plan will depend on the needs of the individual or household. If simply wanting to skip the ads, that alone might be enough of a reason to pay $5 more each month for the ad-free plan. When further bundled with the option to watch in 4K or download videos, the $5 extra each month does greatly improve the overall experience.
However, this is only if any of the additional features are of specific value. If the subscriber and those sharing the same HBO Max account typically watch at home when connected to the internet, and 4K is not necessarily an essential requirement, the added benefits may not prove all that useful. Furthermore, if there comes a time when one feature is suddenly needed—for example, storing videos on a mobile device to watch during an upcoming vacation—there’s nothing stopping the user from upgrading for one month and then downgrading again when the need is no longer there.
It is worth noting that, throughout 2021, all of the new Warner Bros. movies were released to HBO Max on the same day they hit theaters. Although these were only available to stream by ad-free customers, that benefit has not been extended to 2022. Instead, all future Warner Bros. movies come with a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window. Due to this, watching the latest movies on the same day they are in theaters is no longer a reason in itself to upgrade from the ad-supported plan.
Overall, the additional $5 each month should mainly be viewed in terms of the removal of ads from HBO Max episodes and movies. If that alone is enough to pay a higher rate each month, then it will be worth upgrading to the ad-free plan. Otherwise, subscribers are probably better off saving the additional $5 each month and using that towards another subscription service, or something else entirely.