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HBO Max Not the Same as HBO: Here’s How They Are Different


HBO Max vs HBO with banners

HBO and HBO Max share a lot of similarities, but there are enough differences between the two to matter. For any individuals or households considering signing up to either of these services, it is important to understand how HBO Max is different to HBO on content, price, and general device support.

HBO Max launched in the US in 2020. A standard subscription currently costs $14.99 per month. However, consumers can opt for the ad-supported version instead, reducing the cost down to $9.99 per month. The HBO Max app is available to download on a variety of different devices and a subscription can also be bundled with select live TV streaming services, such as YouTube TV.

HBO is a much older service and one many more consumers are likely to already be familiar with. Also priced at $14.99 per month, but without a cheaper ad-supported version, the HBO linear channels can be added to different live TV plans and packages. Previously, on demand content could also be accessed through the HBO Now app, but WarnerMedia has slowly been phrasing the app out and replacing it with the HBO Max app.

HBO Max has more content

The Max in the name is designed to highlight how much more content HBO Max has compared to HBO. At the base HBO level, there is no difference. All of the shows, movies and originals available through HBO are also available through HBO Max.

However, in addition to all the signature HBO content, subscribers to HBO Max also gain access to a wide selection of videos from popular franchises and brands. For example, HBO Max includes access to content from Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, among others. Another fundamental content difference between the two services is HBO Max originals. Just like HBO has its own shows that are only available on HBO and HBO Max, the latter has its own originals and these are only available through the HBO Max apps and website.

While Max clearly has more content, another important difference is the linear channels. Although how important this actually is to an individual subscriber will depend on the rest of their setup. To explain, a standard HBO Max subscription does not include access to HBO linear channels by default. However, as HBO Max can be bundled with select live TV streaming services, the bundling of the two subscriptions usually makes it possible for the subscriber to access the HBO linear channels as well.

Essentially, HBO Max offers everything HBO does and much more. It is also the newer service and the one WarnerMedia is specifically interested in expanding. While both HBO and HBO Max cost the same, HBO Max also comes with a cheaper, ad-supported option. For mostly everyone, HBO Max is going to be the better option, and the cheaper option when signing up to the ‘with ads’ version.

Why does HBO still exist?

Good question. Considering HBO Max is, at worst, the same price and at best cheaper with ads, and comes with all the same content and more, it is valid to question why the standard version of HBO still exists? The short answer is that WarnerMedia has opted to keep it active for those that don’t want HBO Max.

A lot of HBO subscribers get their subscription with their live TV package and might not want to upgrade to HBO Max. If those subscribers prefer to continue to access the same service, they can, even if it is a worst deal overall. However, depending on how they access the service, they may find avoiding HBO Max is becoming increasingly harder to do. While the linear channels remain available, the HBO Now app has been slowly replaced on many platforms and devices by the HBO Max app. As a result, if only wanting standard HBO, many users will still need to download and access HBO through the HBO Max app.

WarnerMedia has never specifically mentioned when or even if the standard HBO will close down permanently, although it does remain a possibility. One that’s all the more likely as more subscribers make the switch over to HBO Max. Speaking of which, for anyone currently contemplating making the switch, it is probably worth doing. Especially as accessing HBO Max as an HBO subscriber is as simple as downloading the Max app and signing in.

HBO Max versus HBO summary

HBO Max and HBO are not the same, although they are very similar. For starters, they both cost the same each month and include the same HBO shows and originals. While HBO includes linear channels and HBO Max doesn’t, the channels can be accessed when a Max subscription is purchased through a live TV streaming service, such as YouTube TV.

Where they do majorly differ, is in the overall amount of content. HBO Max not only comes with all of the content available through HBO, but also provides access to a wide selection of shows, movies and documentaries from many other WarnerMedia brands. All of which makes HBO max a better option overall.

Read more: Discovery+ and Discovery Go Differences Explained

John Finn


8 responses to “HBO Max Not the Same as HBO: Here’s How They Are Different”

  1. I get the best control of my video experience by recording HBO movies on DVR and playing bank the recording. By comparison, streaming is most awkward and provides the least control of movies (regardless of the streaming service). That is the primary difference between HBO and HBO Max for me. Not even a close comparison.

  2. I had HBO that was canceled so signed up for HBO MAX. My only Samsung TV in living room is dated 2012. So I pd for MAX and it does not show up on my smart hub like Netflix. DONT WANT TO MESS WITH ROKU. ?????

    1. Hi Pat,
      We have a Samsung smart tv from a number of years ago. On ours, there is a way to add channels that don’t initially appear on the smart hub, but that whole setup ended up getting frustrating in terms of performance. We eventually switched to Roku, and everything has worked incredibly better than it had. I’d give it a try – it’s a one-time cost, not expensive, and very easy to connect.

      1. I have HBO Max and use Roku to stream it. I don’t have cable. Certain shows don’t show up on HBO Max until almost a week after broadcast (example Real Time with Bill Maher). What gives? I have the 9.99 plan.

        1. with the 9.99 with ad plan, do ads interrupt the movie, or do ads just appear at beginning and end of the program?

          1. The adds Interrupt the show

    2. I just use a PC and HDMI it to my tv screen.

  3. Thanks for this info, I found it helpful

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