Cheaper HBO Max with ads to launch in June — what you need to know

HBO Max ad-supported
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HBO Max is one of the best streaming services, but it's also the most expensive (without live TV) at $15 per month. That's about to change, though, as parent company WarnerMedia has revealed that an ad-supported version is due to come out this summer.

This news comes from WarnerMedia's Analyst and Investor Day, where CEO Jason Kilar said it will launch the new version this June. The company revealed it's more than ready to create ad-breaks in its shows and movies — something HBO never did in the pre-Max days — with $80 million in advertising commitments in for the service/

The Hollywood Reporter shared more notes from the Investors Day event, which include a bullish outlook on the number of subscribers the service expects to accrue. In October 2019, they'd estimated for 75 to 90 million, and now that number is up to 120 million to 150 million. 

As to how much this new tier of HBO Max will cost, we'd think there are two possibilities. A free tier would be great, but seems unlikely. Peacock is the sole major streaming service with a free tier and original content, and HBO Max has notably more reasons to sign up — with its bevy of big box office movies, like the Snyder Cut, which airs next week. If HBO Max would heavily limit the content for non-paying subscribers, a free tier would make more sense.

What sounds more likely to us is somewhere around $7 to $8 per month, around half the price of the regular HBO Max price. That would place the service in competitive territory with Disney Plus and the standard HD-only Netflix, though neither of those have ads.

The Verge's Julia Alexander reports that Kilar doesn't see HBO Max adding live sports this year, something that Peacock and Paramount Plus will use to stand out from the pack. 

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.