HBO Max debuts cheaper subscription plan—but there's a catch

There are some definite pluses and minuses to the new HBO Max membership tier

An HBO Max logo seen displayed on a smartphone
(Image credit: SOPA Images/Getty)

With the influx of new streaming sites being released on a near-daily basis, the costs of keeping up with all of your favorite shows and movies can really add up. Thankfully, HBO Max is helping ease those penny-pinching pressures by releasing a cheaper alternative to its regular subscription plan, set to launch in June. But, in looking at details of the new plan, you'll have to ask yourself—is a subscription switch worth it?

Specifics of how much the new, more affordable plan will cost are still under wraps, but we know it will obviously be cheaper than the $14.99 a month subscription that the streaming platform currently offers. (At nearly $15 a month, HBO Max is America's most expensive streaming service, topping a list that includes Netflix at $13.99/month, Amazon Prime Video at $12.99/month, and Disney Plus at $6.99/month.)

In fact, the ad-supported tier could be nearly ten bucks less per month, if we're taking Hulu's recent with-ads plan as a model, which is priced at $5.99 in contrast with its $11.99 commercial-free subscription.

Extra money in our pockets is always a welcome thing, but one major factor to note about the new HBO Max plan is that it will not include Warner Brothers' 2021 slate of buzzy films, which are set to be released same-day on the streamer and in theaters.

That means if you want to sing along to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights musical, get some leather-jacket inspiration from The Matrix 4, dive into the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, or gaze at Timothée Chalamet's swoon-worthy curls in Dune from the comfort of your own couch, you're going to have to pony up the $15 for the O.G. ad-free subscription plan. 

The new subscription tier is part of a larger roll-out from HBO Max's parent company AT&T, who announced during an Investor Day update last week that the streaming platform will debut in 60 markets outside of the U.S. this year, including 39 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean in late June. (Twenty-one territories in Europe will follow in the back half of 2021.)

So until then, mull over whether you don't mind watching It's a Sin with a few commercials in between, or if the thought of missing major movie premieres like Wonder Woman 1984 and The Little Things leaves you with a serious case of viewer FOMO. The cheaper subscription could definitely work for more casual viewers, but culture vultures might want to opt for the premium, ad-free version if they don't want to miss any of the streaming fun. 

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.