HBO has been the king of exclusive subscription content for nearly 50 years now, currently operating 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 five years ago, which laid 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’re tons of new content, and HBO is aggressively working to expand its subscriber base through some very bold moves. Chief among them, HBO recently announced that many of Time Warner’s key theatrical releases will be released to HBO Max on the same day as they hit theaters. That Wonder Woman 1984, which debuted on Christmas Day 2020. This is a big deal when you consider that going to a movie for two can easily cost $20 or more, and that’s not including concessions! HBO Max will have some of the best movies of late 2020 and 2021 for no added costs beyond the service’s $14.99 a month subscription. This is a big deal, to say the least.
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What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is a streaming service from Home Box Office and its parent company Warner Media. It’s home to all of HBO’s premium TV shows and movies, as well as additional programming from the Warner Media library.
Subscribers can gain access to more than 10,000 hours of content, including HBO shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones as well as recent movies like The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings films series and 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, largely replacing the company’s two older streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now in the US.
What’s the difference between HBO Max and HBO Now?
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.
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.
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 quickly browse and find the content you want to watch.
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.
You can also download shows and movies to watch offline, but only via the official Android or iOS apps.
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’s even more the case in 2021 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, as well as 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, most of these HBO original series can also be watched over the air on the subscription TV channels. The online streaming service itself only has a handful of truly original content (called Max Originals), such as Legendary, Craftopia, On the Record, and the Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo. In 2021, it will add a lot more content, including all of Warner Bros. film slate for that year (although those films will be pulled 31 days after they debut)
Content alone nearly makes HBO Max worth it, but our biggest complaints at first were the lack of 4K quality and, more importantly, device support. Thankfully, those issues have been fixed, with support 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.
Where is HBO Max available?
Currently, HBO Max can only be streamed in the United States, but international localized versions are scheduled for rollout starting in 2021. The first countries to receive HBO Max will be in Latin America and Europe, mostly to replace existing HBO streaming services that currently operate in a single market.
HBO Max is rolling out to Nordic countries, Spain, Central Europe, and Portugal “later this year,” per this update from AT&T. The service is also hitting 39 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean in June 2021. See the full list below.
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent
- Trinidad & Tobago
- Turks and Caicos
How much is HBO Max?
HBO Max costs $14.99 per month, which is the same amount as HBO Now. This is significantly more than services like Apple TV Plus or Disney Plus, but it has much more content on offer. Click the button below to sign up.
Users used to be able to sign up for a seven-day free trial of HBO Max, but that is no longer an option. As of December 3, 2020, WarnerMedia has terminated the free trial option just a few weeks before the much-anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 was set to debut.
In June, HBO Max introduced a cheaper ad-supported plan for $9.99 a month. However, it does not offer access to the service’s day-and-date Warner Bros. theatrical film slate for 2021. It also doesn’t support 4K streaming and does not allow for movies and TV shows to be downloaded to iOS and Android devices. On the plus side, the ads don’t exceed four minutes per hour. Also, ads don’t appear at all on any original HBO movies and TV shows like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos.
How can I 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. The service is currently included with the AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan, which runs $85 for the first line with discounts on additional lines. Certain AT&T TV plans, also include HBO Max streaming.
Learn more: How can you get HBO Max for free?
How do I get HBO Max?
What devices does HBO Max support?
HBO Max supports a variety of 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, as well as 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, at long last, the many Roku devices and smart TVs that same month.
What’s on HBO Max?
HBO Max offers a huge amount of great content for both kids and adults. These include HBO’s impressive catalog of original shows and movies as well as content from its parent company Warner Media. Check out the full list of shows and movies at the link below.
To give you a quick idea of what you can expect, here’s a short list of some of the best content HBO Max has to offer.
HBO Max TV shows
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, 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, as well as 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 short list of a few of our favorite TV shows on HBO Max:
- Adventure Time
- Babylon 5
- Band of Brothers
- Big Bang Theory
- The Boondocks
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Doctor Who
- The Electric Company
- Flight of the Conchords
- The Flintstones
- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- Game of Thrones
- Happy Endings
- Home Movies
- The Jetsons
- Looney Tunes
- The Nanny
- The Office (UK)
- Prodigal Son
- Rick & Morty
- Samurai Jack
- Sesame Street
- Sex and the City
- The Sopranos
- South Park
- Top Gear
- True Detective
- The Wire
Best HBO Max movies
HBO Max has no shortage of movies on offer, either, with tons of great options for all ages. This obviously includes HBO originals like Gia and Behind the Candelabra, but thanks to Warner Media and other third-party licenses it includes literally hundreds more new and classic movies.
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 short list of some of the best HBO Max movies below:
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Behind the Candelabra
- Godzilla (classic and new movies)
- The Lord of the Rings (all movies)
- Police Academy (all movies)
- Singin’ in the Rain
- Studio Ghibli (all movies)
- This Is Spinal Tap
- The Wizard of Oz
On December 3, 2020, Warner Bros. Picture Group announced that every one of its movies slated for the 2021 calendar year will debut first on HBO Max. The films will also launch in theaters, but now you won’t need to wait to see them from the comfort of your own home. The list includes Wonder Woman 1984, the next sequel in The Matrix series, Dune, a new Mortal Kombat film, Godzilla vs Kong, and many others. You can learn more about the change here.
HBO Max original TV shows and movies
Last but not least, there is a short list of original TV shows and movies that you can’t stream on any other service. In fact, 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 both what’s currently available and what’s coming soon.
Current HBO Max original TV shows and movies:
- Adventure Time Distant Lands: BMO
- An American Pickle
- Class Action Park
- Close Enough
- The Dog House
- Doom Patrol
- Expecting Amy
- The Flight Attendant
- The Fungies
- HA Festival: The Art of Comedy
- Infinity Train
- Looney Toons Cartoons
- Love Life
- The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
- On The Record
- Raised by Wolves
- Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness
- Rose Matafeo: Horndog
- Search Party
- Selena + Chef
- Tig n’ Seek
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Upcoming HBO Max original TV shows and movies:
- Boondocks (continuation)
- Dune: The Sisterhood
- Station Eleven
- Strange Adventures
- Tokyo Vice
HBO Max vs the competition
In a way HBO Max already has its own 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.
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.
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 great value proposition. The cheapest plan for most of the world costs $9 a month, and only includes SD quality streaming. To stream in HD you’re looking at $13 a month, which is only slightly less than HBO Max.
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.
Apple TV Plus
If you’re looking for original and exclusive content, Apple TV Plus is a great alternative to HBO Max. The service offers almost exclusively original series and movies that you won’t see on any other platform.
For now, that library is fairly 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 up it up as it grows.
The biggest thing Apple TV Plus has going for it is that it only costs $5 a month. It doesn’t have the most impressive library, but at that price it’s the perfect secondary platform for heavy streamers.
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 offers the full Disney and Pixar catalogs, as well as documentaries from National Geographic and movies 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.
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. That’s currently the best deal there is in the streaming world!
Amazon Prime Video
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 really makes the service shine is all of the extra perks that come with it. These include not only a huge streaming video library, but also 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 doesn’t offer on any of its content. You can get Amazon Prime for less than HBO Max at $13 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.
Q: How many people can stream at the same time on HBO Max?
A: The service can be streamed on up to three devices at once.
Q: Can the service be shared with friends and family?
A: Yes. Thanks to the generous allowance of three simultaneous streams, the service can be shared without worrying about interrupted streams.
Q: Does the service offer streams in 4K?
A: There are a select number of movies that now support 4K streaming, but the vast majority of content support either SD or HD resolution
Q: Does HBO Max have a free plan?
A: Currently there is no free plan, but the cheaper $9.99 a month plan is now available.
Q: Does the service feature advertisements?
A: The $9.99 a month plan includes ads, except for HBO original programming, but the $14.99 a month plan does not include ads.
Q: When will HBO Max launch internationally?
A: The service will launch in Europe and Latin America in 2021, with a further rollout some time in the future.
Q: Does the service work with a VPN?
A: Although it’s not officially supported, many VPN services work with HBO Max. Learn more about the best VPN services.
Q: Can I download shows from HBO Max and watch them offline?
A: You can download shows and movies to watch offline with the $14.99 a plan, but only on its iOS and Android apps.
Q: How do I unsubscribe from the service if I don’t want it anymore?
A: It’s easy to unsubscribe and only takes a few minutes. Here’s how to do it.
Q: Will there be a Friends reunion on HBO Max?
A: Yes. All six cast members, along with the original creators of the show, reunited for an unscripted Friends special that is available now on the service.
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