Once better known by its full moniker — Home Box Office, Inc. — HBO is arguably the most popular premium movie channel for cable subscribers. It’s been in existence since 1972, so its roots run deep when it comes to delivering top-quality entertainment to subscribers. It’s no surprise, then, that its streaming outlet, HBO Max, has been booming in popularity since it officially launched in 2020.
The streamer boasts more than 75 million subscribers who are treated to a stunning selection of quality entertainment, including HBO favorites as well as content from DC Comics, Turner Classic Movies, Sesame Workshop, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Looney Tunes, Cartoonito and more.
Offering a solid combination of exclusive originals, hit TV series and blockbuster movies, HBO Max has become the premier place to view some of the best streaming content today. From hit dramedy series like “Barry,” “Hacks,” “The Flight Attendant” and “The White Lotus” to the full-blow gritty drama of “The Mare of Easttown” and “Euphoria,” there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy when they gather ’round the small screen.
But just because you might enjoy some of the content, does that mean HBO Max is worth the cost for you? Let’s dig into the details to help you find out.
How Much is HBO Max?
Your personal cost for HBO Max really depends on how far in advance you want to prepay for your subscription, and whether or not you want to put up with commercials while you’re streaming. To be fair, however, HBO Max says that viewers should only expect to see about four minutes of ads per hour of streamed content, which really isn’t too big of a sacrifice if you’re looking to save a little money on your subscription.
What Does HBO Max Cost?
HBO Max is available with or without ads, and subscribers may choose to pay monthly or annually to save 16% on the subscription price.
- HBO Max with ads: $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, which compares at $8.33 for each month.
- HBO Max without ads: $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year, which compares at $12.49 for each month.
Sometimes, however, HBO Max runs a deal where new and returning subscribers can save a good chunk of change by prepaying for an annual subscription. For example, a yearly plan without ads might be reduced to $104.99 while a yearly plan with ads might go as low as $69.99, netting you 40% savings. If you’re someone who likes to save some money by juggling their streaming subscriptions based on when new content drops, paying in advance might not actually save you money. But, if you know you want access to HBO Max year-round, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of a deal like this.
Is There an HBO Max Free Trial?
Typically, no, there isn’t an HBO Max free trial — at least not directly through HBO Max. On a very rare occasion, you may be able to nab a free trial when you sign up as a new user through a third-party provider’s promotional offer (for example, adding HBO Max as a premium channel within your Hulu account or via Amazon Prime), or through a separate streaming service like DIRECTV STREAM. In fact, you can currently get two free months of HBO Max with DIRECTV STREAM or DIRECTV Satellite TV.
If changing your entire TV provider is too much of a hassle, however, you can access a limited, free experience on the HBO Max app or via your browser. This allows you to watch some free episodes of the streamer’s most popular series, which makes it less a free trial, per se, and more like a free sample.
What Do You Get With HBO Max Subscriptions?
Both the standard and ad-free HBO Max plans will net you the same content: thousands of hours of series, movies and HBO Max originals which can all be streamed in HD quality. All subscribers can create up to five different profiles within their account (including kid profiles to restrict content by age) and watch HBO Max on up to three devices at the same time.
Aside from eliminating commercials, the ad-free plan also grants subscribers the ability to stream select movies in 4K UHD, and download shows and movies to watch offline at any time.
It should also be noted that you can still subscribe to just HBO for $14.99 per month, but you’ll only have access to HBO content — not Max Originals or lots of other series and movies. So for the same price (or less, with ads), you can get far more content by subscribing to HBO Max, making it the clear choice for the better deal.
What Can You Watch on HBO Max?
From classic television series and blockbuster movies to gripping true crime documentaries and fresh reboots of popular shows, HBO Max has a little something for everyone to enjoy. These are just a sampling of the most popular HBO Max content.
Most Popular HBO Max Series:
- Station Eleven
- The Staircase
- The Gilded Age
- Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
- Gossip Girl (reboot)
- The Flight Attendant
- Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
- Irma Vep
- Our Flag Means Death
- Harley Quinn
- Rap Sh!t
- The White Lotus
- Mare of Easttown
- The Undoing
- Doctor Who
- Game of Thrones
- Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon
- True Detective
- Lovecraft Country
- Silicon Valley
- The Big Bang Theory
- Young Sheldon
- Big Little Lies
- The O.C.
- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- His Dark Materials
- In Treatment
- A Black Lady Sketch Show
- Catherine the Great
- Search Party
- I May Destroy You
- FBoy Island
- Doom Patrol
- Raised by Wolves
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
- Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
- Selena + Chef
- Rick and Morty
- Looney Tunes Cartoons
- The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
- Adventure Time: Distant Lands
- Sesame Street
Most Popular HBO Max Movies:
- The Batman
- Last Night in Soho
- The Bob’s Burgers Movie
- Free Guy
- In the Heights
- Harry Potter 8-Film Collection
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- Promising Young Woman
- Lone Survivor
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Pulp Fiction
- Horrible Bosses
- Miss Congeniality
- The Truman Show
- The Fault In Our Stars
- Training Day
- Charlie’s Angels
- The Friday Trilogy
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League
- Suicide Squad
- The Suicide Squad
- It & It Chapter Two
- Life of Pi
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Wonder Woman 1984
- Judas and the Black Messiah
- The Normal Heart
- Behind the Candelabra
- You Don’t Know Jack
- The Wizard of Lies
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- Deadwood: The Movie
Most Popular HBO Max Specials and Documentaries:
- The Rehearsal
- Mind Over Murder
- The Last Movie Stars
- The Princess
- Being Serena
- We Met In Virtual Reality
- Generation Hustle
- Friends: The Reunion
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
- The Case Against Adnan Syed
- The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
- The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
- Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind
- Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults
- The Day Sports Stood Still
- Murder on Middle Beach
- Q: Into the Storm
- Too Big to Fail
- Allen v. Farrow
- I Love You, Now Die
- Class Action Park
- Alabama Snake
- The Vow
Who Would Like HBO Max Best?
HBO has long been a top destination for dark, edgy dramas and gripping documentaries — and HBO Max expands on that tenfold.
There’s the absurdly entertaining docuseries “The Rehearsal” where comedian and “director of rehearsals” Nathan Fielder helps ordinary people prepare for a big life moment via his elaborately staged scenarios. There’s also the dystopian fantasy drama “Station Eleven,” centered around rebuilding and reimagining a world decimated by a pandemic flu — and, yes, there are a few prescient moments that may be a little hard to swallow. But you can then cleanse your palate with classic Christopher Guest mockumentaries like “A Mighty Wind” and “Best in Show,” long before Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara reunited in “Schitt’s Creek.”
HBO Max actually offers a surprisingly fantastic amount of content for kids, too. It may not be quite as much as Disney+, but thanks to its acquisition and subsequent reboots of classic franchises like “Sesame Street” and “Looney Tunes,” the streamer is adding more and more content to span generational interests. (But don’t worry, creating kid profiles will shield young eyes from all the content that’s not meant for them.)
With such vast appeal, there’s no denying that HBO Max is home to some of the most iconic titles and prestigious television series, so it’s great for folks who really want to keep their finger on the pulse of the most popular, top-tier content. And, unlike its competitor Netflix, that high-quality content is not contained primarily to the streaming world, but also pulls greatly from traditional entertainment on television and in movie theaters.
How to Subscribe to HBO Max
If you previously subscribed to the now-defunct HBO GO or HBO NOW, you can use your same credentials to log into HBO Max. There are also other scenarios where you might already have access to HBO Max through a cable package or another provider without even realizing it.
If you’ve already double-checked that you don’t yet have access to HBO Max, here’s how you can sign up via a web browser:
- Go to HBOMax.com/subscribe.
- Decide whether you want the plan With Ads or Ad-Free, then click the price for either monthly or yearly payments.
- Follow the steps to create your account.
- Provide your payment information.
- Click Start Subscription.
- Choose or create a profile, then get streaming!
How to Cancel HBO Max
Depending on the provider that bills you for your HBO Max subscription, you may need to take special steps to cancel. But most subscribers should be able to cancel their HBO Max subscription via their web browser by following these steps:
- Go to HBOMax.com.
- Sign into your account.
- Click your profile name in the upper right-hand corner.
- Choose Settings.
- Scroll down to the Subscription section.
- Click the Manage Subscription link.*
- Select a reason why you’re canceling.
- Click Yes, Cancel Subscription.
*Because you can obtain HBO Max through various cable providers and streaming packages, you may not see the Manage Subscription option here. In that case, look at the line that says “Billed Through” to see the service that is providing HBO Max to you. Then, consult this list for the next steps to take to cancel your subscription through that specific provider.
Once your subscription is canceled, you can continue streaming until the end of your current billing period, but your subscription will not automatically renew after that date.
Bottom Line: Our Verdict
You know that HBO Max is packed with great content, but how does the cost really shake out when it comes to your viewing habits?
Well, as an example, let’s say that you watch 40 hours of HBO Max per month. That would come out to just under $0.25 per hour of content with ads, or roughly $0.37 without ads. That means you can watch some of the biggest blockbusters for less than a buck, and some of the most buzzed-about streaming series for just $2 or $3 per season.
At about the same cost as Netflix (and with a comparable amount of rave-worthy content that everyone seems to be talking about soon after each release), we’d say that’s a really great streaming deal!
And while there’s plenty of content for all entertainment fans to enjoy across HBO Max’s abundance of existing content and a growing library of riveting Max Originals, the service should be of particular interest to fans of true crime and edge-of-your-seat dramas. So if that sounds like you, then HBO Max is definitely worth it.