HBO Max Announces Price Hike

Warner Bros. Discovery announced a price increase for HBO Max Thursday, even as the company continues to remove content. The $1 monthly increase will make HBO Max the most expensive standard, ad-free streamer monthly subscription. HBO Max ad-free will now cost $15.99, plus applicable taxes, up from $14.99.

Customers paying $14.99 per month will see the increase effective on the next billing cycle, on or after Feb. 11. "This price increase of one dollar will allow us to continue to invest in providing even more culture-defining programming and improving our customer experience for all users," HBO Max said in a statement. The streamer noted this is the first price increase since it launched in May 2020.

When HBO Max launched, no lower-priced tier with commercials was available. WarnerMedia, then still owned by AT&T, finally started an ad-supported plan for $9.99 a month in June 2021. Warner Bros. Discovery has not said if the ad-supported version will see a price increase.

The price hike might be tough for customers to swallow because HBO Max has made headlines more often for removing and canceling content than adding new shows and movies. However, it is not a complete surprise as executives have signaled it was time to finally increase HBO Max's prices. In November 2022, JB Perrette, WBD's president and CEO of global streaming and games, told investors there was an "opportunity" to increase costs in 2023. "We believe there's actually some pricing advantage for us on the ad-free [HBO Max] service and we can probably move north of where the prices are today," he said at the time.

HBO Max will offer the most expensive standard plan among the major streamers, which have all raised prices in recent months. Netflix's standard plan is $15.49 per month (although it also offers a $19.99/month plan). Paramount+ is now at $9.99 per month, and Disney+ is $10.99. Hulu is $14.99 per month and Peacock is $9.99. A standalone Amazon Prime Video subscription is $8.99 per month, while a full Amazon Prime membership is $14.99. Most major streamers are offering lower-priced, ad-supported options.

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WBD has plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+, which is now $6.99 per month ad-free, into one service by this spring. The company has not said if the new service will cost more than HBO Max. It's also unclear what the name of the new service will be, although sources recently told Variety that "Max" was a leading contender.