HBO Max: Is it value it to pay extra for no advertisements?

Lengthy earlier than the period of streaming, HBO was thought of the premiere vacation spot for high-quality unique exhibits. With its streaming service HBO Max, that content material has been mixed with an enormous again catalog of well-liked exhibits and motion pictures, together with Pals, Rick and Morty, Sesame Road, the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter motion pictures, and virtually each Studio Ghibli movie. To not point out that it is the solely streaming service to launch motion pictures like Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune and The Matrix 4 the identical day they’re out there in theaters for no additional cost this 12 months. 

Nonetheless, all of those perks come at a excessive worth: $15 a month — greater than rivals like Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus. However those that need to save a little bit money now have another choice: HBO Max with Advertisements, which prices $10 a month and guarantees solely about 4 minutes of advertisements per hour. 


Do you have to pay additional to nix advertisements on HBO Max? We check it out.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I attempted out each variations of HBO Max, advertisements and no advertisements. Here is how the 2 plan choices differ. 

Learn extra: HBO Max overview: Nice TV and theatrical motion pictures, however not the very best streaming worth


When you’re used to watching stay TV with commercials, or primary Hulu, the advert breaks on HBO Max with Advertisements will not be a giant deal for you. In my checks, advertisements had been comparatively rare, however the quantity various relying on what I watched. 

The advert load was lightest with shorter comedies. Throughout episodes of Pals and The Nanny (each coming in at below half-hour), I noticed one 15-second advert at first, and had two extra advert breaks for about 30 to 45 seconds every in between. That is far lower than you’d get on community TV. 

Films had been a bit extra hit and miss: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had 9 advert breaks over its two hour, 30 minute runtime, starting from 30 seconds to at least one minute every. Earlier than and after every advert break was a 5-second “be proper again” animation, which I discovered to be an annoying time-waster. However that display did not seem on any of the opposite exhibits or motion pictures I watched, aside from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and techniques. (I attempted a couple of extra youngsters’ motion pictures like House Jam and Scooby Doo, however their advert breaks did not have this, so possibly it is Potter-specific.) 

Learn extra: Greatest streaming service offers

In the meantime, Marvel Lady 1984, Tenet and Oslo had no advert breaks in any respect. The Pals reunion particular had seven advert breaks over the course of its one hour, 45 minute runtime. (You possibly can see what number of advert breaks a present or film has by hitting the fast-forward button in your system — you will see small breaks within the progress line, and if you happen to attempt to skip forward previous a type of breaks, you will have to observe these advertisements.)

Even for the flicks with extra advertisements, they did go by rapidly in comparison with Hulu’s ad-supported tier, which generally contains breaks as much as 90 seconds lengthy, and Peacock’s, which guarantees about 5 minutes of advertisements per hour. 

Although the advertisements did not hassle me a lot, at $10 a month, HBO Max with Advertisements continues to be on the pricier facet for a streaming service — Hulu’s ad-supported plan is barely $6 a month, Peacock has a free tier, and you’ll watch Netflix and Disney Plus with no advertisements for $9 and $8 and month, respectively. 

One other huge detriment: Signing up for HBO Max with Advertisements doesn’t provide the full HBO Max expertise. You lose the flexibility to obtain content material to your cellphone or pill to observe offline. And you can also’t watch the big-screen Warner Bros. motion pictures when HBO Max begins streaming them the identical day they hit theaters, together with the upcoming Within the Heights, Dune and The Matrix 4. 

When you do not thoughts a couple of advertisements and need to entry all of HBO Max’s exhibits, however do not care a lot about these big-screen releases, HBO Max with Advertisements might be a great way so that you can save $5 a month in alternate for a couple of advertisements per hour. It could even be a inexpensive manner so that you can check out the service, because it not gives any free trial. But when a part of the explanation why you narrow the twine was to have an ad-free expertise (and also you need cellular downloads and entry to those new motion pictures), it is perhaps value it to pay for the $15-a-month plan. 

Chiabella James

When you’re a longtime HBO fan who expects an ad-free viewing expertise, somebody who watches most of your exhibits on ad-free platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus or Amazon Prime Video, or somebody who simply actually hates commercials, the $15-a-month HBO Max plan might be value the additional $5. This worth is on the excessive finish in comparison with different ad-free streaming providers, nevertheless it does value the identical as paying for HBO’s conventional channel by means of most pay-TV suppliers. 

Two huge benefits of the no-ads plan are the flexibility to obtain exhibits and flicks to your cellphone or pill to observe offline, and entry to these big-budget new motion pictures the identical day as they hit theaters, not less than by means of 2021. 

When you’ve been paying for HBO for years and obtained transformed over to HBO Max from the earlier HBO Go app final 12 months, conserving your $15-a-month plan with no advertisements could also be value it so that you can proceed with that have and get each perk the service has to supply. (Or you may all the time attempt to discover somebody who pays for this and is keen to share their password with you.) However if you happen to’re considering of signing up for the primary time, you would possibly need to take into account attempting the $10-a-month plan to provide it a check run first. 

For extra, try the finest streaming providers of 2021, and the finest stay TV streaming providers for cord-cutters. And, if you happen to’re trying to improve your present residence leisure arrange, we have recommendation masking soundbars, common remotes, huge TVs and even projectors.

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