Max goes for the cable vibe with new price increase — how much is too much?

Max streaming service logo on phone with Max logo on a blue background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another week, another price hike. The days when cutting the cord meant cutting costs are all but gone amid ballooning prices for the best streaming services and best cable TV alternatives. Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is the latest offender, bumping up the cost of Max's ad-free tier just ahead of the “House of the Dragon” Season 2 premiere on June 16.

Max's plans for a price increase came to light last month and go into effect today (June 4). Moving forward, Max’s ad-free tier in the U.S. now costs $16.99 instead of $15.99 per month while the annual plan will see a $20 increase, from $149.99 to $169.99. 

The cost of Max's Ultimate tier — which throws in ad-free streaming, 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos, and the option to stream on up to 4 devices concurrently, among other perks — is going up as well. The Ultimate tier will also see a $1 per month increase, rising to $20.99 per month, and a $10 increase to its annual cost, bringing it to $209.99. Meanwhile, the price of Max's lowest, ad-supported tier will remain the same at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Old Price New Price
Ad-free tier (monthly)$15.99$16.99
Ad-free tier (annually)$149.99$169.99
Ultimate ad-free tier (monthly)$19.99$20.99
Ultimate ad-free tier (annually)$199.99$209.99

While these new prices are effective immediately for new subscribers, current Max subscribers have a bit of wiggle room. “Existing subscribers will be notified 30 days in advance of their plan renewing and see price increases starting from their next billing cycle on or after Thursday, July 4, 2024," Max said in a press release. "Current yearly subscribers will not see an increase until renewal.”

Max is far from the only streaming service jacking up prices. In April, Peacock confirmed both its ad-free and ad-supported plans will cost an extra $2 a month beginning in July. Annual subscription fees for the two plans will also rise to $80 and $140 a year at the same time, respectively. After introducing its ad-supported plan in 2022, last year Netflix discontinued its $9.99 basic subscription tier for new subscribers. Now new customers have to fork over $15.49 per month for its equivalent, the Standard plan. The popular streamer also raised the price for its Premium plan by $3, from $19.99 to $22.99. 

Max's latest price increase is one of several ways WBD is trying save money and hit certain financial targets in the next few years, according to a Bloomberg report. One of the financial goals for WBD is to reach $1 billion in earnings from the Max and Discovery+ streaming apps. The company is also teaming up with Disney to debut a new Disney Plus, Hulu and Max streaming bundle later this summer. However, it's unclear how much this bundle will actually save customers as price information hasn't yet been revealed. 

In the mean time, these price hikes just keep coming — and at an increased clip, too, it's sad to say. 2023 saw Max's first price increase since its initial launch in 2020, with the ad-free tier price jumping from $14.99 to $15.99 per month. Now, here we are, barely a year later, and WBD has already bumped it up again. 

It just goes to show that long gone are the days when streaming was an affordable alternative to cable TV. Now streaming services are so fragmented that you need countless (and increasingly expensive) subscriptions to watch all your favorite movies and shows. Don't get me wrong, I'm not un-cutting the cord anytime soon, but at this rate my monthly Max subscription is getting harder and harder to justify. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.