An HBO Max subscription now starts at $9.99, resulting in a $5 per month decrease on the previous starting price. 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 important 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.
With early June now here, so is the cheaper HBO Max subscription, with consumers now 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, with the service offering both options during the signup process.
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 $9.99 and $14.99 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 notably user-level change is the inclusion of ads with the $9.99 per month plan. AT&T and WarnerMedia had previously said the ad load will be light compared to other services, but those individuals and households that want 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 and 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, with the ad-supported plan resigned to HD. 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 main 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, then 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.