HBO Max, you cunning devils. A new HBO Max price bump was just announced to the press via an email sent out today. Fortunately, it's not a whole lot, but enough to probably make you roll your eyes.
Interestingly, the price increase is only happening to one of HBO Max's two monthly plans: its ad-free $14.99 per month tier, which goes up to $15.99 per month (opens in new tab). Its $9.99 per month ad-supported tier is not getting any adjustment at this time. The increase is effective today (Thursday, Jan. 12) and existing subscribers will see the change "effective their next billing cycle on or after Saturday, February 11, 2023."
Update: An HBO Max representative has confirmed to Tom's Guide that this price change will not affect subscribers who get their HBO Max through an HBO subscription purchased through cable and satellite providers.
To explain the change, the announcement states "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. This is the first time HBO Max has increased the price of a monthly subscription since launching in May 2020."
Analysis: HBO Max's oddly (yet perfectly) timed price hike
The timing of this price hike might seem odd or unsurprising, depending on your point of view. HBO Max is merging with fellow Warner Bros. Discovery-owned streamer Discovery Plus in the spring of 2023 (opens in new tab), and so you can expect a higher price from that date, too. Two price increases in a single year though is a surefire way to alienate subscribers.
The other reason why we're a little disappointed to see this price increase — combined with the statement regarding "providing even more culture-defining programming and improving our customer experience for all users" — is that HBO Max has been lessening its experience left and right. Last August, HBO Max removed 37 movies and shows unexpectedly. Then in December, HBO Max declared it was kicking HBO original Westworld off as well. This month, HBO Max gutted seasons of Looney Tunes and The Flintstones.
We love HBO Max, but these moves don't feel befitting of the best streaming service.
That said, this is also the perfect time for HBO Max to raise its rates. HBO's The Last of Us is launching on Sunday, January 15th, and looks to be one of its biggest shows in ages.
HBO Max probably mentions this is its first time changing the price of its monthly plans because competitors have been more willing to increase pricing. In that same window, Netflix has raised pricing twice, an October 2020 increase of $1 per month for its 1080p Standard tier, and $2 per month for its 4K Premium tier. In January 2022, Netflix raised pricing on its Basic tier by $1, on its Standard tier by $1.50 and its Premium tier by $2.