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HBO Max’s cheaper $10 ad-supported plan is finally here

HBO Max’s cheaper $10 ad-supported plan is finally here


Saving $5 also means giving up 4K and offline downloads

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The HBO Max logo against a dark background with white circles around it.
The HBO Max logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

HBO Max’s ad-supported streaming option has officially launched on the platform. The new tier will be priced at $10 per month, which shaves $5 off HBO Max’s regular cost of $15 per month. How exactly HBO Max planned to successfully introduce ads on its premium content has been a bit of a head-scratcher, as premium and ad-free content was sort of the entire point of HBO to begin with. But to hear the company justify it, ads on the platform’s content will be both “elegant” and “respectful” of the subject matter.

“Advertising is a time-tested way to reduce the cost of great entertainment and reach a wider audience,” Andy Forssell, EVP and general manager at HBO Max, said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard to create an elegant, tasteful ad experience that is respectful of great storytelling for those users who choose it, and which we’re confident will deliver for our advertising partners as well.”

While significantly cheaper, users who subscribe to this budget tier will be missing out on some of HBO Max’s more premium features. The company introduced 4K streaming to its service last year with the premiere of Wonder Woman 1984, but video quality on the budget tier will be capped at 1080p — much like Netflix does with its cheaper tiers. 

Additionally, titles will not be available for offline viewing on the more affordable plan, and users will lose the ability to access same-day movie premieres on the service. Subscribers will eventually be able to view these titles, just in the months after their theatrical release windows end. Everyone on the cheaper with-ads plan will have full access to the service’s originals, however.

WarnerMedia said in a press release that ad time will be capped at a max of four minutes per hour. In addition, ads will not play on HBO originals — a smart move on WarnerMedia’s part if it hopes to maintain its relationships with high-profile talent and creators. The company said that as users continue using the service, “subscribers can expect to see greater personalization in the ads they do see with more innovation in formats to come.” The ad experience kicks off this month with more than 35 brands at launch.

Given that its originals are sort of the entire point of subscribing to the service, and taking into account the fact that these titles will remain free of ads, it’ll be interesting to see how HBO Max’s subscriber numbers change in the months ahead. I, for one, am looking forward to cutting $5 per month off my subscriptions tab now that I know I’ll be able to stream Mare of Easttown in peace.