One Of The Biggest Streaming Services Is Getting A Big Price Hike

HBO Max is going up one dollar a month, from $14.99 to $15.99, the first increase in the history of the service.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

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HBO Max has increased the monthly subscription price for its ad-free tier from $14.99/month to $15.99/month. The price hike, reported by Variety on January 12, 2023, is effective immediately. The change comes as part of a financial restructuring strategy at HBO Max’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, which has also involved the removal of several titles from the streaming service.

This is the first price increase for HBO Max since it launched in May 2020 with a $14.99/month price point. The company has not yet clarified whether the fee for its $9.99/month ad-supported plan will also rise.

Whisperings of a price increase began last November. President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery’s global streaming and games, JB Perrette, revealed that he saw an opportunity in 2023 to raise HBO Max’s ad-free price point, noting that the streaming service could stay competitive at a higher monthly fee. By comparison, Netflix’s standard plan is $15.49/month.

The company’s statement painted the HBO Max price increase as an opportunity “to invest in providing even more culture-defining programming and improving our customer experience for all users.” Lately, the company has done much of the opposite.

The streamer has removed hundreds of episodes of classic cartoons like Looney Tunes, scrapped the Batgirl film after it was nearly completed, and has canceled numerous original series. In doing so, the company is looking at roughly $3.5 billion in content impairment and development write-offs. Now with the increase in the HBO Max price, the company looks to pair its savings with increased cash flow.

All of this is headed toward an eventual merging of two streaming services: HBO Max and Discovery+. The fusion is expected to take place later in 2023, with the revised streaming service likely taking on a simplified name, Max. The HBO Max price hike may be an early response to the new offerings coming to the platform, and may also help cover the cost of overhauling the app.

hbo max generation
The cast of Generation, now on Tubi

Warner Bros. Discovery says it should have its ducks in a row by the end of 2024, concluding the tumultuous restructuring that has scrapped beloved shows, killed developing movies, and laid off many employees. Despite losing homes on HBO Max, Generation found a new home on the free streamer Tubi (where the price never increases), and Minx was picked up by Starz. As for other titles disappearing from HBO Max, the company says it plans to continue licensing some of its content to other streaming services.

The shifting strategy at Warner Bros. Discovery has taken a toll on fans and employees of the studio, but it believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The company has big plans for the future, not the least of which include James Gunn and Peter Safran’s reimagining of the DCU. If things pan out for HBO Max the way Warner Bros. Discovery hopes, fans can hope that the company will make good on its word to keep delivering premium content and justify its new price.