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HBO Max Evaluation: Costly however Its Catalog Is Packed

Breakout reveals and an enormous catalog have helped develop HBO Max’s viewers to greater than 75 million worldwide two years after its launch in Could 2020. 

The streaming service is stuffed with attention-worthy titles and characters from the previous and current, together with Home of the Dragon, Tony Soprano, Elvis, DC heroes like Superman, Journey Time and comedy stars. The app has HBO’s total catalog — together with Emmy-winning hits Succession and Euphoria — together with favorites reminiscent of We Naked Bears, Rick and Morty, the Lord of the Rings motion pictures and nearly each Studio Ghibli movie. A few of Hollywood’s biggest film gems, from Citizen Kane to The Wizard of Oz, might be discovered right here too. 

At $15 per 30 days it is costly, although, and even the ad-supported tier for $10 a month prices greater than the bottom plans for many different streaming providers. Although Netflix’s base plan is now $10 too, it does not have any commercials.


  • Massive, different content material catalog that features all of HBO
  • Easy, easy-to-navigate interface
  • A number of youngsters’s reveals and customizable score settings

Do not Like

  • Excessive worth, even with adverts
  • Cannot import watch historical past or personalised suggestions
  • $10 tier lacks offline downloads

HBO Max’s originals embody hits like The White Lotus, Hacks and Our Flag Means Dying. However even simply the HBO originals (sure, they’re separate from HBO Max’s originals) which you could entry through HBO Max are undoubtedly well worth the worth for lots of people. HBO’s originals embody powerhouses like Euphoria and Home of the Dragon. 

The depth of Max’s library of recent and outdated titles — from HBO and Warner — is a focus because the streamer is not doing day-and-date theatrical releases for newer movies like The Batman

In the event you’re a giant fan of HBO, animation, DC Comics or Buddies or are working out of fine stuff to look at, HBO Max is price your cash. You may determine for your self whether or not you need to pay for Max alongside and different streaming providers like Netflix, Disney Plus or Hulu. However with its lineup of high quality originals, hundreds of flicks and family-friendly choices, and clean interface, HBO Max is a good service.

Consequently, HBO Max has earned a CNET Editors’ Alternative Award.

Streaming providers in contrast

HBO Max Netflix Disney Plus Hulu
Month-to-month worth $10 for fundamental with adverts, $15 for ad-free Begins at $10 $8 Fundamental $7 with adverts, ad-free Premium for $13 Reside TV for $70
Adverts Sure No No Sure
High titles Home of the Dragon, Our Flag Means Dying, Euphoria, DC Comics collection, The White Lotus Stranger Issues, Squid Sport, Higher Name Saul, The Sandman Obi-Wan Kenobi, Loki, Encanto, The Simpsons Handmaid’s Story, How I Met Your Father, The Bachelor, Bob’s Burgers
Cell downloads Sure Sure Sure Sure
4K HDR out there No Sure (on Premium plan) Sure Sure
Variety of streams: 3 1 (2 for Customary, 4 on Premium) 4 2 (Limitless with Reside TV $9.99 add-on)

Value on par with Netflix that is ripe for sharing

HBO Max prices $15 a month, the identical as HBO’s conventional channel if you get it via most pay-TV suppliers. The service added a $10-a-month plan that features adverts, aptly referred to as HBO Max with Adverts

Regardless of the massive catalog of flicks and reveals, HBO Max is on the costly finish of streaming providers together with Netflix, whose fundamental plan prices $10 a month and commonplace is $15.50 month-to-month. Hulu’s plan with adverts is $7 a month and Disney Plus prices $8 a month. A number of folks we all know share account entry with associates or members of the family and HBO Max govt Tony Goncalves informed CNET in 2020 that it’ll take a “pretty balanced strategy” to this challenge, whereas Netflix has lately mentioned cracking down on password-sharing

You might be able to get an HBO Max subscription for no additional value via numerous offers, your wi-fi service, or if you have already got HBO. Take a look at our streaming service offers checklist to see should you’re eligible for a reduction.  

hbo max tv series carousel

HBO Max has DC content material, Looney Toons, and Cartoon Community reveals like Journey Time.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With HBO Max you may have as much as three simultaneous streams going on the similar time. The addition of as much as 5 person profiles, a characteristic not out there on the earlier HBO Now or HBO Go apps, makes it simpler to share an account. 

HBO Max with Adverts: How typically do you see commercials?

The $10-a-month HBO Max with Adverts plan guarantees round 4 minutes of adverts per hour of content material watched however in our checks the variety of adverts different extensively. For reveals that have been a half hour or beneath (like Buddies and Our Flag Means Dying), we noticed one spherical of adverts at first that lasted round 25 seconds whole, and there have been two extra advert breaks for about 30 to 45 seconds every in between. 

For comparability, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Half 2 had seven advert breaks over its two-hour runtime, and The Batman, Moonshot and Oslo had none. It felt like there was no sample for when to anticipate adverts. In April, the platform launched an upfront 90-second advert block expertise the place commercials will solely roll earlier than a film begins and will not pop up throughout the remainder of the movie. Nonetheless, that is only for choose titles. 

HBO Max additionally makes use of an animation to provide viewers a heads up when adverts begin and cease for family-friendly content material. General, the advert breaks have been fairly quick in contrast with watching one thing on cable, and even in contrast with Hulu’s ad-supported tier, which generally contains breaks as much as 90 seconds lengthy, and Peacock’s, which guarantees about 5 minutes of adverts per hour. Nonetheless, once more, Hulu’s plan is barely $7 a month, and Peacock has a free tier. 

Lastly, it is price reiterating what else you miss out on by paying $5 much less. HBO Max with Adverts does not let you obtain content material to look at offline, which can be non-negotiable for cell customers who prefer to stream wherever, any time. And should you want a 4K expertise, that is not an possibility with this subscription plan.

Learn extra: We Tried HBO Max Advert-free and With Adverts to Discover Out if That $5 Financial savings Is Actually Price It


The cheaper tier HBO Max contains adverts.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A robust steady of reveals and films

HBO Max’s greatest energy is its massive, different TV and film catalog, with content material for adults and youngsters. At launch, it had 10,000 hours of content material to stream, together with every little thing on HBO, plus a choice of high-profile TV reveals like Buddies, The Huge Bang Concept, Rick and Morty and South Park. 

It is since grown to greater than 13,000 hours’ price of choices that embody documentaries, actuality reveals, film franchises and animation. One factor that works in Max’s favor is Warner’s possession of its hefty film and present library. Like Disney, it has a again catalog that it doesn’t must license from an out of doors studio. Nonetheless, viewers will notice that the streaming service will rotate sure titles on and off the platform with regularity. 

HBO cable subscribers who have not but checked out the streaming service might discover now’s the time to get into it. There are a handful of recent HBO Max originals that will not additionally air on HBO. The most important Max exclusives embody Peacemaker, The White Lotus, Hacks and the Gossip Woman reboot. However in contrast to Netflix, it is going to usually drop its originals as soon as per week, the best way common cable HBO does. 


Our Flag Means Dying is considered one of HBO Max’s unique reveals. 

{Photograph} by Aaron Epstein/HBO Max

Within the meantime, there are plenty of motion pictures, some new and lots of older. HBO Max has the total units of The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings trilogies (although solely two of The Hobbits), DC properties like The Suicide Squad and Marvel Girl, basic movies like The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca, and newer hits like The Batman. To not point out nearly all the catalog of Studio Ghibli anime movies that have been launched for streaming within the US earlier than. 

Although HBO is thought for its grownup content material, Max has loads to supply youngsters too, together with new Looney Tunes cartoons and Sesame Avenue episodes, and the Cartoon Community catalog. Fan-favorite animated collection reminiscent of Common Present and Steven Universe might be binged. It is also dwelling to Physician Who (should you take into account {that a} youngsters’ present) and the Lego motion pictures. 

Parental controls are strong. You may customise youngsters’ profiles to determine which score ranges they’ll entry, and create a passcode that locks them into their account to allow them to’t leap over to their dad and mom’ to look at something inappropriate. (Your child may be savvy sufficient to determine that passcode out, nevertheless it’s one thing.)


Hooray, you may watch Dune in 4K on Max.

Warner Bros.

4K HDR titles are extraordinarily restricted

HBO Max has an undeniably enormous catalog, and like its rivals Netflix and Hulu, the streamer constantly provides new and basic motion pictures and collection to its library every month. Nonetheless, its 4K title choice is small and never straightforward to seek out. Whereas with Netflix you may sort “4K” within the search field to drag up all out there content material, that is not the case right here. 

Although every title has a 4K stamp in its description, HBO Max retains a working checklist on its assist web page of each title that is out there in 4K, HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient. Home of the Dragon is the primary new HBO present out there in these codecs, and now you can watch Sport of Thrones in 4K. As well as, you may discover Dune, Kimi, The Suicide Squad and The Matrix trilogy among the many movies on the checklist. There are roughly 30 motion pictures that stream in 4K, and you could have the ad-free HBO Max plan and a supported machine to be able to view them. 

A visually interesting interface

Scrolling via HBO Max is just like the expertise on Netflix, Hulu and different streaming providers. Once you open your profile, you may discover Proceed Watching and My Listing on the high of the web page. Bounce to the homepage and a carousel of the most recent releases await you, adopted by suggestion rows reminiscent of Simply Added, Trending Comedy, For You, Standard TV or the very descriptive Hilariously Chaotic. 

We just like the look of the menus higher than many different streaming providers. It has a darkish purple and black theme that enables the textual content and pictures to pop, and reveals fewer tiles on the display without delay with extra breaks between them, to provide your eye a relaxation. One draw back, nonetheless, is that it may be robust to determine at first what textual content is highlighted within the menus so you may make choices.

In the midst of the web page you may see a mini hub the place you may entry motion pictures and reveals from every of the service’s properties: HBO, DC, Sesame Workshop, Turner Traditional Films, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Community, Grownup Swim and Looney Tunes. It seems to be sort of like Disney Plus’ hub on the high of its web page, however with much less acquainted names than Disney’s Star Wars and Marvel. 


HBO Max has a crisp search perform.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You may additionally discover curated collections of flicks round a theme sprinkled via your homepage, like rom-com favorites and blockbuster franchises. Hit Browse on the high left nook and you will have the choice to look by classes reminiscent of Sequence, Films, Originals, Simply Added, Final Likelihood and Coming Quickly, together with genres like Motion, Comedy, Crime and Documentaries. You may additionally discover the mini hubs on this panel, too.

In contrast to on Netflix, you may simply see what’s coming and happening the platform and watch accordingly. Cell downloads are additionally out there, and the app’s format is basically the identical throughout TVs, telephones and tablets.

In relation to looking, HBO Max helps you to use abbreviations (like “GOT” as a substitute of “Sport of Thrones” or “HP” as a substitute of “Harry Potter”). On Apple TV, voice search labored fairly nicely — after we mentioned, “Watch Rick and Morty,” HBO Max opened the collection touchdown web page, giving the choice to decide on the episode. After beginning an episode of Sport of Thrones and shutting out, after I mentioned, “Watch GOT,” it jumped me again into the episode the place we had left off. Saying “Watch Jaws,” the Apple TV opened the entire completely different choices throughout different streaming platforms on the backside of the display as nicely.

Choosing a present will take you to its touchdown web page, the place you’ll find each episode out there in a clear format, and have the choice so as to add it to your checklist. Once you begin a present, the score seems within the higher left nook.

In summer season 2022, HBO Max unveiled a brand new set of options for cell and desktop customers. iPad and iPhone viewers within the US can now use SharePlay to look at content material along with family and friends on FaceTime. The shuffle button is now out there for cell phone customers who need to play random TV present episodes. Moreover, you are capable of toggle a split-screen characteristic on supported gadgets, and pill customers can flip between portrait and panorama modes extra simply. 

No human suggestions, however the algorithm is actual 

One in all HBO Max’s guarantees was that as a substitute of solely utilizing a suggestion engine to floor new content material for customers, it might even have curated content material from celebrities, to carry a extra human contact. This characteristic continues to be not out there, nonetheless. It does curate content material in methods that may be useful — for instance, highlighting the episodes of Buddies that monitor Ross and Rachel’s relationship so you do not have to go digging for them. In any other case, suggestions are primarily based on what your viewing habits and preferences.

HBO Max movies and TV shows

You may simply binge the critically acclaimed Euphoria on HBO Max with any machine.

James Martin/CNET

Do you have to get HBO Max?

In the event you already subscribe to HBO, utilizing the HBO Max app as a substitute is a no brainer: It is tons extra content material for a similar month-to-month worth. 

For brand-new subscribers, HBO Max prices extra, however if in case you have $10 or $15 a month to burn and need to binge the Studio Ghibli motion pictures, Sport of Thrones, Warner Bros. movies or Max Originals, you may have lots to select from. And should you do not thoughts a number of adverts — or the trade-off of shedding 4K and offline downloads — the $10-a-month HBO Max with Adverts plan may work nicely for you.

First revealed on Could 29, 2020.



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