the streaming wars

You Can Get HBO Max for $5 Less If You Don’t Mind Ads

Photo: HBO Max

If you’ve been on the fence about signing up for HBO Max because of its rich price tag ($15 per month), there’s some good news: You’ll soon be able to get the Max experience for “only” $9.99 per month — if you’re willing to put up with some advertising. As has been long expected, WarnerMedia announced Wednesday that it will launch the not-so-artfully-titled HBO Max With Ads the first week of June, offering budget-minded consumers the chance to save one-third of the regular cost in exchange for what it promises will be “the lightest ad load in the streaming industry.” While every series and classic movie on the regular Max will be included, the ad-supported version will not include access to the same-day movie premieres the streamer has been rolling out since December. In other words, if you want to stream In the Heights, you’ll still need to pay full freight.

While Max didn’t offer a ton of specifics about how HBO Max With Ads will work, company execs have previously said there will not be advertising on current HBO-branded series. So while you might see an ad while watching Jean Smart on Hacks (an HBO Max original), there shouldn’t be commercials if you want to watch Jean Smart on Mare of Easttown (an HBO original). Older HBO titles — think reruns of Sex and the City — will likely have ads, however. Many past HBO series have had runs on cable networks where ads were somehow squeezed in. As for what “the lightest load in the streaming industry means,” Max didn’t offer a number, but it’s worth noting Peacock has pledged to run no more than five minutes of ads per hour in its shows. Presumably, then, Max will offer four minutes and 45 seconds of ads or less.

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You Can Get HBO Max for $5 Less If You Don’t Mind Ads