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HBO Max allows subscribers to stream movies and shows on up to three devices at the same time. The service explains this limit is to help identify security issues related to an account. While the number of streams are limited, subscribers are free to access HBO Max on as many devices as they like, just not at the same time.
Simultaneous streams are an increasingly important part of any subscription and something that consumers should be aware of before signing up. Knowing any same-time stream limits helps to avoid issues after a subscription has started and ensure that everyone who shares an account can watch what they want, when they want, without the need for additional subscriptions or paid add-ons.
HBO Max launched on May 27 in the US and provides access to a variety of movies and shows. A standard subscription costs $14.99 per month and unlike some services, there’s currently no option to upgrade or downgrade an account. This also means that there is not much choice when it comes to streams, with all subscribers having access to just three simultaneous streams. This guide explains how that might impact on the experience.
Streams are limited, but not devices
Some services place a number of caps or limitations on the experience. While simultaneous streams is one of those limitations, some services also limit the number of devices in general. For reference, the first relates to how many streams can be accessed at the same time while the latter is in relation to how many devices the same account can be logged into at the same time.
Although HBO Max currently limits the number of same-time streams to three, the company has confirmed that there are no limitations on the number of devices. Therefore, a single account shared by multiple family members can be accessed and signed into on as many devices as is needed, including phones, laptops, home computers, and living room devices.
Going over the simultaneous streams limit
The limitation on simultaneous streams is something that’s likely to impact on busier households and larger families, and especially when all members want to access an account at the same time. However, HBO Max explains that this limitation is in effect as an additional security precaution to ensure unauthorized users are not accessing an account.
When a subscriber goes over the stream limit, they will be presented with a warning explaining that they are currently streaming on too many devices. At the same time, they will be prohibited from accessing the service on any more devices. In instances like this, it can be wise to check the account to make sure no one is accessing HBO Max that shouldn’t be. This check can be done quite easily through the ‘Manage Devices’ option in the settings.
Of course, this feature will only be of use for those accessing HBO Max directly through the service’s website and apps. For those who subscribe and typically access HBO movies and shows through a third-party provider, there could be additional restrictions on how many devices can actually stream HBO Max at the same time.
HBO Max streams through a provider
One of the benefits of HBO Max is that consumers don’t actually have to sign up through AT&T and WarnerMedia to access the service. Instead, they can access HBO movies and shows through their current TV provider. Not only does this approach result in a consolidation of payments, but it also usually means only one service and app is needed to access all video content.
However, the addition of a provider can both positively and negatively impact on some features, and simultaneous streams is no exception. Here’s an explanation on how this can affect the experience, using Hulu as a provider example.
Subscribers to either the basic Hulu subscription or the more robust Hulu Live TV streaming service have the option of adding HBO Max to their plan. Furthermore, Hulu’s website and apps also come with a tight level of HBO integration, making it very easy to access all of the HBO original shows and movies through the single 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 at all. However, that also means they will be limited to the general restrictions set out by Hulu, not HBO Max.
For example, a basic Hulu subscription and the standard Hulu Live TV subscription comes with the ability to stream on two devices at the same time. Hulu Live TV subscribers do have the additional option of adding more simultaneous streams through the ‘Unlimited Screens’ add-on, although they do have to pay extra each month for the feature.
This two-device limitation on the base Hulu and Hulu Live subscriptions also automatically applies to HBO content viewed through Hulu. Therefore, these subscribers can only stream HBO on two devices at the same time. Of course, they can also download the official HBO Max app and use their Hulu login credentials to access the content directly.
By doing this, subscribers will also gain the additional three streams available to all users through the app and website. In principle, this should also not affect the ‘HBO within Hulu’ streams, and this could potentially mean the overall number of devices that can access the service at the same time increases to five.
The same logic applies to any and all subscribers who get HBO Max through a third-party provider, although the exact number of streams and devices that can access at the same time will vary, based on the service.
HBO Max simultaneous streams summary
Overall, HBO Max providers subscribers with three simultaneous streams and that’s relatively in line with what most other services offer with a base subscription. Unlike same-time streams, the number of devices HBO Max can be installed on, and linked to the same account, is unlimited.
In addition, those who get HBO Max through a third-party service or provider may find they can actually stream HBO movies and shows on more than three devices at the same time. However, if they limit themselves to just the provider app then it is likely that the number of streams will be less than HBO Max’s default three.
Read more: How to cancel HBO Max