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What is HBO Max? Everything you need to know

HBO Max is expensive, but it offers a lot of great original content.
January 13, 2023
HBO Max hub featured image
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

HBO has been the king of exclusive subscription content for nearly 50 years now. It currently operates seven 24-hour channels filled with high-quality original and licensed content. The company took its first steps into the digital age with HBO Now more than five years ago, laying the groundwork for a much-expanded service called HBO Max. This service combines HBO’s impressive library of original shows and movies with even more content from its parent company Warner Media into a single subscription service.

HBO Max isn’t just a name change. There’s tons of new content, and HBO is aggressively expanding its subscriber base through some very bold moves. In 2022, all of Warner Bros’ key theatrical releases will be released made on HBO Max 45 days after they hit theaters. However, the service will undergo another change sometime in 2023 as it will merge with Discovery Plus to form a new service that, as of this writing, is currently unnamed.

Want to try out HBO Max? Sign up now via the button below for $9.99 a month with ads or $15.99 a month without ads.

HBO Max logo
HBO Max is your home for Warner Bros-made movies and TV shows like The Lord of the Rings, the DC Comics superheroes, and more. It's also the home for new and original movies and shows available nowhere else.

What else does HBO Max offer? Below we discuss everything you need to know.

What is HBO Max?

What is hbo max screenshot

HBO Max is a streaming service from Home Box Office and its parent company Warner Bros Discovery. It’s home to nearly all of HBO’s premium TV shows and movies, as well as additional programming from the Warner Bros library. Every new HBO or Warner movie ends up on HBO Max, too, either directly or after leaving theaters.

Subscribers can gain access to more than 10,000 hours of content, including HBO shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones and recent movies like The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings films series, and the Studio Ghibli catalog. It’s also the exclusive home of the biggest show of the 90s and early 2000s: Friends.

The service first launched in the United States in May of 2020, mainly replacing the two older streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now. The service is now in more than 50 countries and, as of January 2022, the combined HBO and HBO Max subscriber numbers were at 92.1 million.

What’s the difference between HBO Max and HBO Now?

difference between HBO Now and HBO Max

HBO Now used to be the only way for non-cable subscribers to gain access to HBO’s content, with cable subscribers pointed toward the (now defunct) HBO Go. With the release of HBO Max, all HBO Go and HBO Now subscribers have been switched over to the new service free of charge.

Learn more: HBO Max, HBO Now, and HBO Go: What’s the difference and what’s changing?

How does it work?

Like most streaming services, all you need to do is access the service from a computer, phone, or other supported device, select the show you want to watch, and start streaming.

Read also: HBO not working? Here’s how to fix HBO and HBO Max

Both the web and app interfaces separate content into “hubs” like Cartoon Network, DC Comics, Studio Ghibli, and of course, HBO. This allows you to browse and find the content you want to watch quickly.

The media files themselves are kept on a remote server, and as long as you have a consistently good internet connection, you shouldn’t experience any stutters or pausing. HBO recommends a minimum speed of 5mbps for HD streaming, but you might want to step that up slightly for the best experience.

On the ad-free plan, you can also download shows and movies to watch offline, but only via the official Android or iOS apps.

Is HBO Max worth it?

Is HBO Max worth it

HBO Max is one of the most expensive streaming options out there, but there’s a reason for this! HBO has some of the best exclusive content, and that will continue to be the case in 2022 and beyond, with tons of great movies heading its way.

In Android Authority’s own HBO Max review, we found that the amount of content on offer was impressive, especially compared to other streaming services. It has an excellent library of content for both kids and adults and a host of exclusive HBO series and movies.

HBO Max is more expensive than other streaming services, but it has the content to back it up.

Granted, you can also watch most of these HBO original series over the air on the subscription TV channels. The online streaming service itself has a growing amount of truly original content (called Max Originals), such as Legendary, Craftopia, Hacks, The Staircase, On the Record, and the Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo. In 2021, it added a lot more content, including all of the Warner Bros. film slate for that year.

Content alone nearly makes HBO Max worth it, but our biggest complaints initially were the lack of 4K quality and, more importantly, device support. Thankfully, those issues have been fixed, with the backing for both Fire TV and Roku devices now added and support for 4K streaming for a few movies.

The good news is that if you’re on the fence about an additional streaming fee and already subscribe to HBO channels, odds are you can get HBO Max for free. With most cable companies, all you need to do is enter your details into the HBO Max app, and you’re good to go. If that’s not an option, you can also sign up for the cheaper $9.99 a month plan. It allows access to most of the HBO Max library but throws in commercials.

Where is HBO Max available?

HBO Max first launched just in the United States. Since then, it’s expanded across Latin America, Europe, and beyond. Here’s the full list of supported countries:

  • Andorra
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • BVI
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Curacao
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Finland
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monserrat
  • Montenegro
  • Nicaragua
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent
  • Spain
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Warner Media has also revealed that HBO Max will be coming to more European locales in 2022. These countries can be found in the list below.

  • Turkey
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania

We’ll update this article as soon as HBO makes the service available in more countries.

How much does HBO Max cost?

HBO Max has two plans: one ad-supported plan for $9.99 a month, and one ad-free plan that costs $15.99 per month. This is significantly more than services like Apple TV Plus or Disney Plus, but it has much more content on offer.

The ad-supported plan is a bit cheaper but includes up to four minutes per hour of ads. It also doesn’t have a few extra features, such as 4K streaming, and offline viewing. That said, ads will not appear on any HBO originals, so you can enjoy great TV shows like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos without interruption.

Sign up for HBO Max below.

HBO Max logo
HBO Max is your home for Warner Bros-made movies and TV shows like The Lord of the Rings, the DC Comics superheroes, and more. It's also the home for new and original movies and shows available nowhere else.

How can I get HBO Max for free?

Get HBO Max for free

There are a few ways to get HBO Max for free. You can (probably) get HBO Max for free if you subscribe to HBO programming through your cable TV service. HBO has agreements with Charter (Spectrum), Altice USA, Verizon, Comcast, Cox, and others.

HBO Max is also included with some AT&T plans free of charge. If you are subscribed to the company’s U-verse TV plans, you can get HBO Max as well.

Learn more: How can you get HBO Max for free?

HBO Max without adsHBO Max with adsHBO Max free
HBO Max without ads
$14.99 a month
HBO Max with ads
$9.99 a month
HBO Max free
HBO Max without ads
All HBO Max features
HBO Max with ads
Commercials, up to four minutes per hour

No HD streaming

No support for downloads on mobile devices
HBO Max free
All HBO Max features
HBO Max without ads
Via HBO Max apps or
HBO Max with ads
Via HBO Max apps or
HBO Max free
Via cable providers or via some wireless phone plans.

How do I get HBO Max?

You can sign up for HBO Max by clicking on the button below, or via the Google Play Store or Apple App Store apps.

What devices does HBO Max support?

HBO Max device support
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

HBO Max supports various devices, starting with web browsers and both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Just download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store to get streaming. The service also has apps for Android TV and Apple TV and support for Google Chromecast streaming dongles.

Read also: The best media streaming devices you can buy

Many smart TVs, such as those made by Samsung, LG, and Sony, are also compatible with HBO Max. Many more are supported via Casting and AirPlay 2 technology. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles are also supported, although the Nintendo Switch is not. In mid-November, the HBO Max app launched on Amazon Fire TV devices. In December, Comcast cable and internet customers added the HBO Max app to the company’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex set-top boxes. It also added support for the Playstation 5 game console and the many Roku devices and smart TVs.

What’s on HBO Max?

HBO Max offers a massive amount of great content for both kids (and excellent Kid profiles and parental controls) and adults. These include HBO’s impressive catalog of original shows and movies and content from its parent company Warner Media. Check out the complete list of shows and movies at the link below.

Read also: HBO Max: The master list of movies and TV shows right now

To give you a quick idea of what you can expect, here’s a shortlist of some of the best content HBO Max has to offer.

HBO Max TV shows

Best HBO Max shows - friends
Warner Bros

It should come as no surprise that HBO Max has a host of great TV shows after decades of great HBO originals like The Sopranos, Westworld, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, The White Lotus, Sex and the City, and others. All of these can be streamed in their entirety on the service in HD quality.

But the service offers much more than just that. It includes more hit shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and South Park and popular children’s shows like The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Looney Tunes, and Sesame Street. It also includes many anime series and movies from the streaming service Crunchyroll.

Here’s a shortlist of a few of our favorite TV shows on HBO Max:

  • Adventure Time
  • Babylon 5
  • Band of Brothers
  • Big Bang Theory
  • The Boondocks
  • Chernobyl
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Doctor Who
  • The Electric Company
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • The Flintstones
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • Friends
  • Game of Thrones
  • Ghosts
  • Happy Endings
  • Home Movies
  • House of the Dragon
  • The Jetsons
  • Looney Tunes
  • The Nanny
  • The Office (UK)
  • Prodigal Son
  • Rick & Morty
  • Rome
  • Samurai Jack
  • Sesame Street
  • Sex and the City
  • The Sopranos
  • South Park
  • Top Gear
  • True Detective
  • Watchmen
  • Westworld
  • The White Lotus
  • The Wire

Best HBO Max movies

2001 a space odyssey
Warner Bros

HBO Max has no shortage of movies on offer, either, with tons of great options for all ages. This includes HBO originals like Gia and Behind the Candelabra, but it has hundreds more new and classic movies thanks to Warner Media and other third-party licenses.

Read also: The top 10 best HBO Max movies

At your disposal, you have most of the Turner Classic Movies catalog, almost the entire DC Universe of movies (Batman and Superman), Studio Ghibli’s entire catalog, and many classics from the Criterion Collection.

Check out a shortlist of some of the best HBO Max movies below:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • Casablanca
  • The Lord of the Rings (all movies)
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Studio Ghibli (all movies)
  • Unforgiven
  • The Wizard of Oz

In 2021, HBO Max had all of the movies Warner Bros released to theaters also drop on the service the same day, for 31 days (the movies returned to HBO Max a few months later). In 2022, HBO Max is switching things up a bit. For 2022, Warner Bros will drop all of its films on HBO Max very shortly after they are released to theaters. That includes The Batman, which hit theaters March 4, and debuted on HBO Max in mid-April. Other movies that received that same treatment included Elvis and DC League of Super Pets, and it will continue with movies like Black Adam.

HBO Max original TV shows and movies

hbo max originals

Last but not least, there is a shortlist of original TV shows and movies that you can’t stream on any other service. You won’t even be able to watch them on HBO cable channels!

There still aren’t too many originals on the platform, but the list is slowly growing. Below we’ve included a list of just some of what’s currently available and coming soon.

Current HBO Max original TV shows and movies:

  • Adventure Time Distant Lands: BMO
  • Class Action Park
  • Close Enough
  • Craftopia
  • The Dog House
  • Doom Patrol
  • Expecting Amy
  • The Flight Attendant
  • Frayed
  • The Fungies
  • HA Festival: The Art of Comedy
  • Hacks
  • Karma
  • Legendary
  • Love Life
  • On The Record
  • Pure
  • Raised by Wolves
  • Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness
  • Rose Matafeo: Horndog
  • The Staircase
  • Search Party
  • Selena + Chef
  • Singletown
  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Upcoming HBO Max original TV shows and movies: 

  • Dune: The Sisterhood
  • Full Circle
  • Green Lantern
  • Love And Death
  • The Penguin
  • Strange Adventures

HBO Max vs. the competition

In a way, HBO Max already has its niche carved out by the sheer quality of the existing HBO catalog, but if you’re still on the fence, it’s worth checking out some competitors. Most of these are less expensive overall, but few offer the same incredible library of shows and movies.

Read also: The best video streaming services that are worth your time and money

Below we’ve compared the service to a few other leading streaming services on the market. This way, you can be sure of your decision before spending your hard-earned money. Scroll a bit further for a more in-depth analysis.

NetflixDisney PlusHuluHBO MaxAmazon Prime Video
Basic with ads: $6.99/month
Basic: $9.99/month
Standard: $15.49/month
Premium: $19.99/month
Disney Plus
Basic with ads: $7.99/month
Premium: $10.99/month
Premium: $109.99/year
Hulu (with ads): $7.99/month or $79.99/year
Hulu (no ads): $14.99/month
Hulu + Live TV: $69.99/month
Hulu (no ads) + Live TV: $82.99/month
Other add-ons available
With ads: $9.99/month
Without ads: $14.99/month
Amazon Prime Video
Standalone: $8.99/month
With Prime: $14.99/month or $139.99/year
Other add-ons available
Streaming quality
Basic with ads: SD
Basic: SD
Standard: HD
Premium: UHD (4K)
Disney Plus
Up to 4K
Up to 4K
With ads: HD
Without ads: Up to 4K
Amazon Prime Video
Up to 4K
Concurrent streams
Basic with ads: 1
Basic: 1
Standard: 2
Premium: 4
Disney Plus
Standard: 2
With $9.99 add-on: Unlimited
Amazon Prime Video
Original programming
Disney Plus
Amazon Prime Video
Offline viewing
Disney Plus
Yes (only on ad-free plans)
Yes (only on ad-free plan)
Amazon Prime Video
Live TV
Disney Plus
Yes (only on Live TV plans)
Amazon Prime Video
Other features
Includes small mobile game catalog
Disney PlusHulu
Hulu (with ads) included in Disney Plus-Hulu-ESPN bundle.
Ad-free plan includes day-and-date access to some Warner Bros. films.
Amazon Prime Video
Included in Amazon Prime
Free trial?
Disney Plus
Yes, up to 30 days
Amazon Prime Video
Yes, 30 days

NetflixDisney PlusHuluHBO MaxAmazon Prime Video


hbo max vs netflix

No discussion of streaming services would be complete without talking about Netflix. The current king of the streaming world has far more subscribers worldwide due to an impressive library of licensed content, more originals than any other service can muster, and a running head start.

Despite an increase in competition, Netflix is still the go-to platform for streaming. However, price increases have reduced the previously excellent value proposition. The cheapest plan for most of the world costs $10 a month and only includes SD quality streaming. You’re looking at $15.49 a month to stream in HD, which is a bit more expensive than HBO Max. Some markets will include an ad-based plan for $6.99 a month starting November 3.

Not all Netflix original content will be as high-quality as HBO’s originals, but there will always be something new to watch. That’s what makes Netflix such an excellent first choice for those looking to cut the cord or just keep up with the latest popular streaming shows.

Netflix icon
Netflix is still the leading premium streaming service, with over 200 million worldwide subscribers. It offers thousands of movies and TV shows to binge watch, including its always growing list of original films and series, including Stranger Things, The Witcher, Bridgerton, and many more.

Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus vs HBO Max

Apple TV Plus is an excellent alternative to HBO Max if you’re looking for original and exclusive content. The service offers almost exclusively original series and movies that you won’t see on any other platform.

For now, that library is pretty small, but there are many shows worth checking out like Mythic Quest, The Morning Show, and See. As time goes on, even more big-budget shows will be produced for the platform, with Apple’s deep pockets to prop it up as it grows.

Apple TV Plus currently costs $6.99 a month, without ads. It doesn’t have the most impressive library, but it’s the perfect secondary platform for heavy streamers at that price.

apple tv plus logo 1
Apple TV Plus
Apple TV Plus has quickly become a major player in the streaming game since its launch in 2019. Its slate of original programming includes shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Foundation, and For All Mankind as well as movies like The Banker, Greyhound, and Palmer.

Disney Plus

Disney Plus vs HBO Max

HBO Max has a great selection of children’s content, but Disney Plus arguably offers even more for those with small children. Disney’s streaming service provides the full Disney and Pixar catalogs, documentaries from National Geographic, plus movies and shows from the Marvel and Star Wars universes.

Disney Plus also has a growing list of completely original content, like the hit show The Mandalorian. Several more Star Wars, Marvel, and animated shows will soon be added to the platform, as well.

Currently, at just $8 a month, Disney Plus is one of the most affordable streaming services out there. If you want even more TV shows or sports content, you can get a great bundle deal of Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus for just $14 a month. In December, the service will start raising prices for both its individual and bundle plans and will also throw in an ad-based plan for $7.99 a month.

Disney Plus comedy movies section stock photo
Disney Plus bundle

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime video vs hbo max
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

When it comes to pure value, there is nothing like Amazon Prime Video. Bundled with an Amazon Prime subscription, it has an enormous library of shows and movies to stream right away, with even more content available to rent or buy at the click of a button.

But what makes the service shine is all of the extra perks that come with it. These include an extensive streaming video library and free shipping on orders, ebook rentals on Kindle, unlimited photo storage, and discounts at Whole Foods supermarkets.

If that doesn’t seal the deal, Amazon also offers 4K quality at its base tier, which HBO Max barely delivers on its ad-free plan. You can get Amazon Prime at the same price as HBO Max at $15 a month, but if you’re not interested in the extra perks, you can access just the streaming library for even less at just $9 a month.

Prime video logo
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video offers access to thousands of movies and TV shows to stream. That includes great original shows and movies like The Boys and The Tomorrow War. You can also sign up for other premium services within Amazon Prime Video.

Other FAQs

The service can be streamed on up to three devices at once.

Yes. Thanks to the generous allowance of three simultaneous streams, the service can be shared without worrying about interrupted streams.

There are a select number of movies that now support 4K streaming, but the vast majority of content support either SD or HD resolution.

Currently, there is no free plan, but the cheaper $9.99 a month ad-supported plan is now available.

The $9.99 a month plan includes ads, except for HBO’s original programming, The $15.99 a month plan does not include ads.

The service launched in Latin America and Europe in 2021 and 2022, with more international rollouts planned for 2022.

Although it’s not officially supported, many VPN services work with HBO Max. Learn more about the best VPN services.

You can download shows and movies to watch offline with the $15.99 a plan, but only on its iOS and Android apps.

It’s easy to unsubscribe and only takes a few minutes. Here’s how to do it.

Yes. All six cast members and the original creators of the show reunited for an unscripted Friends special that is available now on the service.

Help other readers out

Are you a current or previous HBO Max subscriber? Make your voice heard in our polls below!

Would you recommend HBO Max to a friend?

96 votes

Is the pricing fair for what HBO Max has to offer?

89 votes

Did you subscribe to any other HBO products before HBO Max?

94 votes

Any streaming services you'd recommend over HBO Max?

124 votes