HBO Max vs Hulu: Which $1.99 Black Friday streaming deal wins?

(L to R) the HBO Max and Hulu logos
(Image credit: HBO Max / Hulu)

A new game of thrones just started, as HBO Max and Hulu vie for Black Friday deal supremacy. Both brandished epic-looking $1.99 per month deals for customers, causing us to look at both and think "hey, let's bring some clarity."

Right now, HBO Max with ads costs just $1.99 per month, for the next three months. Hulu with ads is also $1.99 per month, and that deal goes for the next 12 months. I took Hulu's offer last year, when it was $0.99 per month (back when Hulu was a dollar cheaper).

So, let's figure out which deal is better:

Hulu: was $7.99 per month now $1.99 per month

Hulu: was $7.99 per month now $1.99 per month
With a ton of original series and movies, plus the latest TV shows, Hulu offers a lot to watch. Normally, this ad-supported tier costs $7.99 per month, so you'll be saving $6 per month (for up to 12 months) with this offer.

HBO Max with ads: was $9.99 now $1.99 per month

HBO Max with ads: was $9.99 now $1.99 per month
This deal for new and eligible subscribers is 80% off HBO Max's ad-supported tier — a perfect way to catch up on stuff you've missed, like House of the Dragon, Succession and the rest of the best HBO Max shows and movies.

HBO Max vs Hulu Black Friday deals: Which saves more money?

So, while both services are at the same price, one deal lasts much longer than the other, while the other is giving a slightly bigger discount.

HBO Max's deal may give you $8 off per month (that's literally the price of Hulu with ads) but it only lasts for three months. So, therein, you're saving $24 total. 

Hulu's deal on the other hand, is chopping $6 off per month, for up to 12 months — savings of $72. Arguably, there's a little asterisk here. If you missed that deal now — and are OK with committing to a year of Hulu, you could still get Hulu's annual plan for only $8 more, at $80. But we appreciate a month-to-month deal, unlike the Paramount Plus Black Friday deal that has you committing to a whole year at a time.

Oh, and there's a Hulu and Disney Plus combo deal that can be used to unlock a $3 per month Disney Plus offer. And unlike that Disney Bundle, you don't need to get ESPN Plus for that to work. 

Winner: Since Hulu's saving you 200% more than HBO Max is, it wins the value round.

HBO Max vs Hulu Black Friday deals: Who's got the better content?

This is the more subjective question, the "your mileage may vary" round, if you will. 

That said, we rank HBO Max as the #1 best streaming service for a reason: its excellently curated collection of movies and shows. If it's been a while since you last streamed on HBO Max, you have a lot to look forward to once you come back for this deal.

House of the Dragon, HBO Max's Game of Thrones prequel series, impressed with strong performances from the likes of Paddy Considine, Milly Alcock, Emma D'Arcy, Matt Smith and Olivia Cook. More recently, the streaming service added big movies such as Barbarian and Elvis, which are on our best HBO Max movies list. 

Oh, and January 15 sees the debut of the The Last of Us HBO series starring Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones). It's a shoe-in for the best HBO Max shows list. On top of that, you get all of the HBO back catalogue, from classics such as The Sopranos and Sex and the City to recent hits such as Watchmen, Harley Quinn, The Rehearsal, Barry and Hacks.

That's not to say Hulu doesn't have great shows and movies. Hulu's The Bear is one of the best shows of 2022. And it's always adding great licensed movies as well. Also, Hulu is fantastic for cord-cutters who want next-day streams of shows such as Abbott Elementary on ABC. 

Winner: No offense Hulu, but if we could only fit one streaming service on a deserted island, it would be HBO Max.

HBO Max vs Hulu Black Friday deals outlook

Honestly, some people may not even have to make this decision. It's for new and returning subscribers, and some might not want to go through all the rigamarole to get the deal. 

But, by the numbers, Hulu wins on savings, with its Black Friday deal saving you 3x as much as HBO Max's. And at the end of the day, that probably means the most to more people. Why? Because you can get both of these services, and you don't need to choose. Hulu, congrats on another Black Friday win.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.