When HBO Max becomes Max next month, existing subscribers should not see any immediate changes to the cost of their subscription or their plan’s features. However, this will only be in the short-term, as Warner Bros. Discovery has confirmed that plans are likely to change before the end of 2023.
When HBO Max first launched there was only one subscription option. Then, in 2021, HBO Max added a new ad-supported tier. In return for the cheaper monthly price, ad-supported subscribers sacrificed in some areas of the experience. This not only currently includes ads, but also the ability to download videos and watch in 4K.
More recently, HBO Max increased the price of the ad-free subscription to $15.99, a $1 per month increase. Considering the ad-free plan is a requirement for other premium features, this effectively also increased the cost of watching in 4K or downloading videos to $16 per month.
With the arrival of Max next month, however, there will be a new Ultimate plan available. Priced at $19.99 per month, Max’s Ultimate plan will offer a number of improvements over both the $9.99 ad-supported and $15.99 ad-free plans, including the ability to watch in 4K.
Essentially, this will mean that the cost of watching in 4K on Max will cost $4 more than it currently costs on HBO Max. Although it will still be possible to sign up to an ad-free plan for $15.99 per month, that plan will be capped at 1080p resolution.
As to be expected, this does raise the question of what happens to existing HBO Max subscribers who are migrated over to the new Max streaming service? Well, according to Warner Bros. Discovery, they will retain access to their current plan’s features but only for “a minimum of six months following launch.”
While it remains unclear how long exactly “a minimum of six months” will be in real terms, and considering the service launches in May, it would seem likely that changes to plans are scheduled to happen before or around the start of 2024, unless extended.
Regardless of the exact date, the clear suggestion here is that, at some point, those currently signed up to the $15.99 per month HBO Max ad-free plan will lose some of their features, including the ability to watch in 4K.
At which point, the only alternative for those subscribers will be to pay more each month for the Ultimate plan.