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HBO Max Simultaneous Streams: How Many People Can Watch At Once?

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HBO Max allows subscribers to stream movies and shows on up to three devices at the same time when accessing the service directly through the HBO Max app and website. Although this limit can impact on how many people can watch at once, HBO Max explains the number is capped as a security measure. It is worth noting that although the number of streams is limited, subscribers can access HBO Max on as many devices as they want, just not at the same time.

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Simultaneous streams are an increasingly important factor to take into consideration when signing up to a paid service. After all, knowing exactly how many same-time stream a single account has access to can help to avoid issues later on, and ensure that everyone who shares a subscription can watch what they want, when they want, and on the devices they want.

HBO Max provides access to a variety of movies and shows with a standard subscription costing $14.99 per month. Those who want to save on the cost can opt for the ad-supported plan which reduces the monthly price down to $9.99. While there are some differences between the two plans, simultaneous streams is not one of them. Regardless of the plan chosen, HBO Max can be watched by up to three people using different devices at once.

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Most services place some caps or limitations on the experience with simultaneous streams being a common one. In addition, some services also place a limit on how many devices can be logged in at the same time as well. While HBO Max does limit the number of same-time streams to three, the service does not place any additional limits on devices. In other words, family members can sign in using a single account on as many supported devices as needed, including phones, laptops, home computers, and living room devices. The difference is simply that only three can be simultaneously used to watch videos.

Streaming on too many devices

This simultaneous streams limitation is likely to be something that impacts on busier households and larger families. In explaining the limitation, HBO Max says that it limits the number of devices as a security measure. Essentially, subscribers are limited to three simultaneous streams to ensure unauthorized users are not accessing an account.

If an account does go over the streams limit, any additional people trying to watch HBO will be presented with a warning message that states they are streaming on too many devices. Those users will then also be blocked from watching any content. In situations where the user is sure they are under the limit, it might be worth checking to make sure that only those allowed to access the service are using the same HBO Max account. This option can be found in the ‘Manage Devices’ section of the settings menu after logging in to the primary HBO Max account.

For reference, the same-time streams limit only applies when accessing the service directly through the app or the HBO Max website. For those users that are subscribed—and typically watch HBO movies and shows—through a third-party provider, such as Hulu or YouTube TV, there is likely to be some additional restrictions on how many devices can stream at the same time.

Streaming outside of HBO Max

One of the benefits of HBO Max is that consumers don’t actually have to sign up directly through the service. Instead, they can watch all of the HBO movies and shows through their current TV provider. Not only does this approach result in less services and payments to manage, but it usually also means the subscriber only has to access one app overall. However, the addition of a provider can positively and negatively impact on some features, and simultaneous streams is no exception.

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If using Hulu as an example, subscribers have the option of adding HBO Max to their subscription, and regardless of whether they are signed up to the basic Hulu plan or the more robust Hulu Live TV plan. Furthermore, Hulu’s website and apps also come with a good level of HBO integration, making it easy to access all of the original shows and movies through the one interface. Due to this, many subscribers who get their HBO fix through Hulu may find they don’t need to download the HBO Max app on their devices. The downside is those same subscribers will be limited to the restrictions set out by Hulu, not by HBO Max. Unless paying extra for Hulu’s premium ‘Unlimited Screens’ add-on, this likely means a limitation of two devices at the same time.

Again, these alternate same-time limitations are only in relation to when watch HBO content through a third-party. They are not dependent on whether a subscription was set up with another provider. In other words, this lower limitation can actually be used to the subscriber’s advantage if combining the two different limitations together. Using Hulu again as an example, Hulu subscribers can also download the official HBO Max app on their devices and use their Hulu login credentials to access the content directly through the app. In principle, this should not affect the ‘HBO within Hulu’ streams, potentially taking the overall number of devices that can access the service at the same time up to five.

The same logic applies to any and all subscribers who get HBO Max through a third-party provider, keeping in mind that the exact number of streams and devices will vary across third-party services. Not to mention, not all of the content directly available through HBO Max will automatically be available through a third-party app or website.

HBO Max simultaneous streams summary

HBO Max providers subscribers with three simultaneous streams, allowing up to three devices (or people) to watch at the same time. This limitation is relatively in line with other services, and HBO Max claims it limits the number of people to protect a subscriber’s account form unauthorized use. Unlike the simultaneous streams limitation, HBO Max does not limit the number of devices the app can be downloaded on, or the number of devices that can be linked to the same account.

For those that have subscribed to HBO Max through a third-party service or provider, and watch through a different app, it is possible that the maximum number of streams available will be fewer than HBO Max’s default three streams. However, some households may find they can actually stream HBO movies and episodes on a greater number of devices at the same time if they combine the limits from the two apps together, depending on the third-party service.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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