Max: everything you need to know about HBO's streaming service

Max webpage
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery)

One of the many major streaming services available to movie and TV fans is Max, previously (and sometimes currently) still known as HBO Max.

Max is the digital home of Warner Bros. Discovery's videos: movies from Warner Bros., documentaries from Discovery, TV shows from HBO, sports from TNT, superhero fare from DC, programming from CNN and more all make their home on the platform.

What does that actually entail? Well, Max's library runs the gamut from classic and popular movies to must-watch prestige TV, lots of reality and some sports too, with an even mix of everything that allows Max to compare to popular rivals like Netflix and Apple TV Plus.

Despite Max's fantastic library, it's not for everyone. Between its high price, frequent changes and a relatively slow rate of originals compared to rivals, some may not find Max is quite right for them.

To help you make your decision, here's what you need to know about Max.

Max price — how much does it cost?

Max has three subscription plans:

  • Max ad-free: the ad-free plan costs $15.99 per month (the same as a legacy HBO account); you can sign up for a full year for $149.99. This plan gives you access to any and all content available on Max without ads, as well as all the bells and whistles of the service, including 4K resolution.
  • Max with ads: Max's ad-supported plan is cheaper at $9.99 per month plan ($99.99 for a full year), but there are some key differences to the service. You get the same access to library titles and Max originals but, not only do you have to sit through the commercials, there's also no 4K resolution and no ability to download content to watch offline.
  • Max Ultimate ad-free: an upgraded version of the previous tier at $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year which offers 4K video streaming on lots of titles, 100 offline downloads, streaming on four screens at once, and Dolby Atmos sound on supported titles.

You can also sign up for Max through other streaming platforms as an add-on channel. This includes YouTube TV and Hulu/Hulu with Live TV.

What's the difference between HBO, HBO Max and Max?

HBO, the legendary cable channel that we know and love is still there, the same as it ever was, offering incredible original content paired alongside the best of Hollywood. 

For a while, HBO Max was the streaming service, and now that's Max. The difference between the two is that Max gets the top subscription tier and Discovery Plus content, neither of which were on HBO Max.

Max has everything that's on HBO, plus movies and shows from many of Warner Media Discovery's other brands, such as TBS, TNT, CNN, Adult Swim, classic movies from Turner Classic Movies and even the best kids programming — courtesy of Sesame Street, Cartoon Network, Cartoonito and Looney Tunes.

Max also has its own original series that stream exclusively on the streaming service, dubbed as Max Originals.

Milly Alcock in House of the Dragon

Milly Alcock in House of the Dragon (Image credit: HBO)

Can I get Max for free?

Define free. Consumers can no longer try out Max, as there is no free trial currently available for the streaming service, unless there is a special promotional offer. But there are a handful of ways that consumers can get access to Max without technically paying extra for the service, but that's not really getting Max for free. Here's what you need to know.

Most notably, if you have a cable subscription that includes HBO, then you automatically have access to  Max via that deal, signing into the streaming service with your cable package login information.

Though AT&T has stopped offering Max for free now that it is no longer its parent company, AT&T customers that previously received Max for free as part of their plan still have access to it at no additional charge as long as they keep their plan. Meanwhile, AT&T still plans to offer versions of Max as part of select wireless plans. This includes the ad-supported version of Max with the $60 per month plan of AT&T's Cricket Wireless.

Is Max available in the UK?

Although Max is gradually rolling out across the world, sadly the answer is no — Max is not available in the UK, yet.

Most of the must-see shows that you'll find on Max — from House of the Dragon to Euphoria, Winning Time to Succession — are currently available on Sky TV, which has a licensing deal to air HBO's shows. This likely means that Max won’t launch in the UK (or Germany and Italy) until the Sky deal ends in 2025.

What shows are on Max?

As we said, Max is HBO... and then some. There are new movies and shows every month. We have a monthly guide to what's new on Max, to help you keep track of everything that the streaming service has to offer. 

The streaming service has many of the HBO originals you've come to know and love, like Last Week Tonight, as well as classic shows, like Friends

There is also a full slate of Max originals. Here's a sampling of these original series available on the streaming service:

What movies are on Max?

Max gets the benefit of the Warner Bros. library, which means a vast array of cinematic goodness is available to stream from the comfort of your own home. After a short pandemic-induced period of releasing movies straight to streaming, Warner has reimposed its theatrical window, meaning new 2022 movies are going to be released exclusively in movie theaters and it will be at least 45 days before they head to VOD or streaming. 

That said, 45 days isn't long to wait and WarnerMedia Discovery also announced they are producing some movies exclusively for Max. In 2022 already that has included Kimi, Moonshot and The Father of the Bride.

Current movies on Max:

Classic movies on Max:

  • Citizen Kane
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Sleepless in Seattle
  • Warrior
  • The Wizard of Oz

How can I watch Max?

Max is available on a variety of devices that allows subscribers to watch on their TV, phone, tablet or computer. Here's a full rundown of what devices support Max:

  • iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with iOS 12.2 or newer
  • Android phones and tablets with Android 5 or newer
  • Amazon Fire tablets (fourth generation or newer)
  • PC running Windows 7 or newer
  • Mac with macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or newer
  • Google Chromebooks with Chrome browser version 95 or newer
  • A web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari)
  • Amazon Fire TV with Fire OS 5.1 or newer
  • Android TV with Android OS 5 or newer
  • Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD with latest tvOS software
  • Cox Contour 2 and Contour Stream Player
  • LG Smart TV
  • PlayStation 4 & PlayStation 5
  • Samsung Smart TVs (2016 models or newer)
  • Spectrum WorldBox (in select areas)
  • Vizio Smart TVs (2018 models or newer)
  • Xbox One & Xbox Series X|S
  • XClass TV
  • Xfinity X1 & Flex
  • Chromecast
  • AirPlay
  • Roku
Tom Bedford
Streaming and Ecommerce Writer

Tom is the streaming and ecommerce writer at What to Watch, covering streaming services in the US and UK. His goal is to help you navigate the busy and confusing online video market, to help you find the TV, movies and sports that you're looking for without having to spend too much money.

With contributions from