It’s true for old customers of any type of digital service to be a little wary whenever changes come to a platform and they are told that they can keep their current plan. Because you know the other shoe is going to drop at some point.
And that point will soon be made to early subscribers of Max’s ad-free plan, which is what you could have gotten in the early days of the now-rebranded HBO Max. Subscribers are receiving emails today that point to changes to their ad-free service. However, this shouldn’t be a complete surprise, as Max originally said that the basic HBO Max plans and features would be good for at least six months after Max launches. And here are the changes six months later.
“On your next billing date, on or after December 5, 2023, your subscription price will remain the same, but some of your features will change,” the email reads. You can still stream all your favorite blockbuster movies, fresh originals and iconic series.
What features are changing, you ask?
After that December date, subscribers to the ad-free tier, which costs $16 a month or $150 a year, will only be able to watch on two devices at a time, down from three. And those streams will now be limited to full-HD resolution — no longer 4K or Dolby Atmos. However, you will still be able to download up to 30 pieces of content for offline viewing. So this is it.
The change is basically a win-win for Max, provided you don’t cancel it. You might be tempted to move up to the lower tier, which has the same impotent features, but for only $10 per month or $100 per year (plus, you know, ads). Or maybe you’re willing to “buy up” to the Ultimate ad-free plan at $20 per month or $200 per year and keep 4K content and Dolby Atmos for audio. In those instances, Max will get more revenue either directly from your subscription, or from advertising revenue, which may be worth more than any paid plan. (For example, Netflix has explicitly stated that its tiered subscribers with advertising are more valuable between subscription fees and advertising revenue.)
No word yet on what this might mean for those whose ad-free subscriptions are being created by AT&T, the company that owned HBO before the merger with Warner Bros. Discovery. No word has come.