Max is in. HBO Max is out.
Warner Bros. Discovery made headlines in May 2023 when it rebranded HBO Max into simply “Max.”
But is it a new name playing mostly the same game?
If you weren’t paying for this before, is it worth subscribing now? That’s what I want to help you decide.
I was an HBO Max subscriber before the name change. For the purposes of this review, I subscribed to the ad-supported version of Max. I downloaded the app onto my cell phone, tablet and smart TV to experience it on various platforms.
This article was updated in May 2023 and I review it every six months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
Table of Contents
- What Is Max?
- Max vs. HBO Max: What’s the Difference?
- How Much Does Max Cost?
- What Is Included With Max?
- My Experience With Max
- Final Thoughts
What Is Max?
Max is a subscription streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery that launched on May 23, 2023.
Max includes 45 years’ worth of HBO content as well as options from popular Warner Bros. Discovery entities including TLC, HGTV, Discovery and Food Network.
It also carries titles the company has acquired or reacquired licensing rights to in recent years, such as the libraries of “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sesame Street” and “South Park.” And, yes, there is plenty of new content that is exclusive to the platform as well.
In total, Max features more than 35,000 hours of content.
Max vs. HBO Max: What’s the Difference?
HBO Max, which launched in May 2020, is a defunct streaming service that is no longer available. Max effectively took its place as of May 23, 2023.
HBO Max customers were automatically given Max subscriptions at their same pricing. Their HBO Max login credentials were also ported over to the new Max app to avoid losing any content.
You may be wondering: Is this simply a name change? Do subscribers get anything else?
Think of it as a consolidation of two streaming products that happened as a result of the Warner Bros. and Discovery merger. Discovery already had a popular streaming service in discovery+, and Warner Bros. had HBO Max.
To compete with Netflix and The Disney Bundle, Warner Bros. Discovery decided to combine the best parts of its content library and repackage it in a new app.
Max features the entire HBO Max library PLUS most of the top content from Discovery-produced channels such as HGTV, Magnolia Network, Food Network and TLC.
Note: discovery+ is still available as a cheaper standalone subscription for those who enjoy the Discovery-branded content.
How Much Does Max Cost?
Max has three different subscription tiers. These are available via either monthly or annual payment plans.
Paying for an entire year will net you some savings, but you do lose the ability to cancel from month-to-month.
Here’s a breakdown of the pricing for a Max subscription:
|Subscription Type||Monthly Price||Annual Price|
|With Ads (2 concurrent streams)||$9.99||$99.99|
|Ad-Free (2 concurrent streams, 30 downloads)||$15.99||$149.99|
|Ultimate Ad-Free (4 concurrent streams, 4K UHD streaming, 100 downloads)||$19.99||$199.99|
The addition of Ultimate Ad-Free is a change from the old HBO Max subscription options. It offers four concurrent streams, up to 100 offline downloads and 4K UHD streaming.
Note: If you get HBO with your TV package, internet service, or wireless plan, you may have access to Max at no extra cost. You can check with your HBO provider for more details.
You also may be able to secure a discount on Max through your wireless phone, internet or live TV streaming provider.
What Is Included With Max?
Max includes the entire HBO library, content from some of Warner Bros. Discovery’s other brands, licensed television series and movies, as well as original content.
In total there’s more than 35,000 hours of content that ranges from children’s content like “Sesame Street” to adult dramas like “Game of Thrones.”
Here’s a quick sampling of the different types of TV show content you can find on Max:
- “Game of Thrones”
- “The Sopranos”
- “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
- “Sex and the City”
- “The Big Bang Theory”
- “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
- “South Park”
- “Rick and Morty”
Max Original Children’s Content
- “Sesame Street”
- “Looney Tunes”
- “Tom and Jerry in New York”
- “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai”
- “90 Day Fiancé”
- “Dr. Pimple Popper”
- “Sister Wives”
- “Say Yes to the Dress”
- “You, Me and My Ex”
- “Hometown Makeover”
- “Property Brothers: Forever Home”
- “Renovation 911”
- “Love It or List It”
- “House Hunters”
- “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”
- “Beat Bobby Flay”
- “Restaurant Impossible”
- “Cutthroat Kitchen”
- “Fixer Upper”
- “Fixer Upper: The Castle”
- “Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines”
- “For the Love of Kitchens”
- “Maine Cabin Masters”
You’ll also find a large menu of movies on Max. “Harry Potter” and DC Comics fans are likely to find themselves happy with the collections available.
Movies on Max
- “Harry Potter” collection
- “Batman” collection
- “007” James Bond collection
- “Men in Black”
- “Step Brothers”
- “Wedding Crashers”
Max Streaming Service: User Experience
As I mentioned earlier, I tested out the Max service shortly after it was released.
Let’s take a look at some key takeaways.
How Bad Are the Ads?
Since I was using the ad-supported subscription for this review, I decided to test the commercials you were required to watch on a variety of content types.
I sampled an episode of “Friends” (typical 30-minute sitcom) and “The Sopranos” (hour-long drama). I checked the ads for a two-hour movie (“Wedding Crashers”) as well.
Here’s a breakdown of what I experienced:
|Type of Content||Number of Commercial Breaks||Total Duration of Commercials|
|30-minute sitcom||3||1 minute, 25 seconds|
|1-hour drama||2||2 minutes|
|2-hour movie||7||5 minutes, 40 seconds|
Those are manageable numbers that are much better than what you’d experience watching similar content on cable television.
That being said, you can forgo the advertisement experience altogether by paying to upgrade to the ad-free subscription tiers.
Aside from the content additions, the most notable change for the transition from HBO Max to Max is the new app.
Prior to launch, Warner Bros. Discovery promised the following for the new app:
- App load times that are 20-30% faster
- Personalized recommendations for individual user profiles
- Improved video start times upon selection
- Reduced glitches
After my test drive of the new app, I can attest to the faster speeds, and I did not experience any glitches. It felt like I was zipping from one landing page to the next. I also saw personalized recommendations based on my viewing patterns.
Here’s a peek at what the app looks like on an Apple iPhone:
Want to make sure your smart device will support Max? Chances are good that you can find the app on your phone, tablet, streaming dongle or smart TV.
Here are some of the supported devices for streaming Max:
- Amazon TV
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Samsung TV (models made in 2016 or later)
- Google Chromecast
- iOS devices (ex. Apple iPhone or iPad)
- Android phones (ex. Samsung Galaxy)
- Roku devices
- Amazon Fire devices
- LG Smart TVs
- Vizio Smart TVs (2016 and later)
- Xfinity Flex and X1
You also can watch from your computer by logging in on the website.
I love what I’m seeing from Max so far.
It’s basically all of the cool stuff you loved from HBO Max combined with lots of new content from Discovery-produced channels.
There is a broad base of consumers who could find this video streaming service worth $99 per year. That includes fans of HBO’s long list of award-winning series, movie buffs, “Harry Potter” or DC Comics fanatics, and reality television junkies.
Oh, and the app is fast and easy to use.
I recommend paying for a month of ad-supported streaming to check it out for yourself.
Are you a Max subscriber? We’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the Clark.com community!
- May 2023: Completed an initial evaluation of the Max service after it replaced HBO Max.