Got time for another 10,000 hours of TV, movies,and old episodes of Friends? , the latest and biggest to launch in the last few months, is finally available. It’s a multibillion-dollar bet on the future of TV at a time when Americans are .
pretty, pretty good of late: , is one of its many viral hits and despite the lockdown there’s no end in sight to its firehose of original shows., and are all competitors to HBO Max, but its chief rival is Netflix. The streaming king has been doing
Buthave struck millions of American families, so paying for both Max and ‘Flix might be a stream too far. How are you supposed to choose? We break down Max itself in our full review, but if you want a direct comparison to Netflix itself, read on.
HBO/Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET
HBO Max is the biggest new Netflix competitor to launch since Disney Plus. It has everything on “standard” HBO, its own exclusives and originals, such as Green Lantern and The Snyder Cut, and a big back catalog of favorite shows — including Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, South Park and numerous Warner movies including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and Harry Potter, Lego and DC movies including Joker and even beloved anime titles from Studio Ghibli.
Downsides? It’s expensive, lacks apps for Roku and Fire TV, doesn’t support 4K HDR and, unlike Netflix, new episodes will generally drop every week instead of being available all at once for easy binge watching.
Read our HBO Max review.
Netflix is the gold standard for streaming, the top TV and movie service in the world and our Editors’ Choice at CNET. It includes a wide variety of familiar network shows but its real draw is the hundreds of original series, films, documentaries and specials — more than any of its myriad competitors. Its huge library of commercial-free content remains easily accessible across different devices. And it offers three different pricing options depending on what features you want.
Read our Netflix review.
|Monthly price||Starts at $8.99||$14.99|
|Top titles||Tiger King, Stranger Things, The Office, Breaking Bad, 13 Reasons Why||Game of Thrones, Friends, Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, Sesame Street|
|Number of streams||1 (2 for Standard, 4 on Premium)||3|
|User and kids profiles||Yes||Yes|
|4K HDR available||Yes (on $15.99 plan)||No|
|Devices||All major platforms||Most major platforms except Roku and Amazon Fire TV|
Netflix wins for new originals, but HBO’s got game
The first thing to know about HBO Max is that it has everything on HBO. That includes not only new HBO show, including the season finales of , Insecure and We’re Here and the series premieres of I May Destroy You and Perry Mason.but every
Max also has exclusive originals that “normal” HBO subscribers won’t be able to watch. The biggest you can watch now is Love Life, a romantic anthology series starring Anna Kendrick, while kids get The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo and new Looney Tunes cartoons. Over the summer Max will launch 12 more originals, including Adventure Time: Distant Lands and American Pickle, the Seth Rogen comedy that will be HBO Max’s first original film.
The novel coronavirusand will likely affect more HBO Max originals originally scheduled for fall and later. A company spokesperson told CNET that its early plans are “mostly unaffected by COVID-19” but that “some projects that were in production have been suspended and may debut later than expected.” Max planned to have 31 original series this year (which totals 69 series when combined with HBO content) but there’s no word on exactly how many will be delayed. But at least we know the , “Zack’s ultimate vision for” Justice League, is coming in 2021.
Netflix’s slate of new originals, meanwhile, continues to churn. Mega-hits Tiger King, Fuller House, new seasons of Queer Eye, 13 Reasons Why, The Politician and all three seasons of NBC’s Hannibal, the serial killer drama hailed as one best shows on television. And that’s just the .and Spenser Confidential tallied more than 64 million households in their first four weeks, . The new comedy starring Steve Carell from The Office is streaming now. Other additions in June include the final season of
Since it drops new seasons all at once, Netflix says it has already shot every show on its 2020 release slate. These include the fourth season of historical dramaand Over the Moon, a movie directed by animation legend Glen Keane. Those production delays don’t seem to affect it as much as other companies and Netflix says it won’t have to adjust its own release schedule until 2021.
In terms of back catalog HBO Max wins for familiarity and big names: it leans heavily on shows like Friends, South Park and It’s TV. It’s HBO Max) as well as HBO favorites including Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Sesame Street and the Sopranos. Its movie list is deeper than Netflix too, with titles such as A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians and The Wizard of Oz in addition to HBO’s normal rotating slate of movies.(rejected tagline:
Netflix also has plenty of well-known TV shows and movies, but its strength is in its original programming and exclusives. One recent example: the Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani movie The Lovebirds premiered on Netflix instead of in theaters.
Max weaknesses: No Roku or Fire TV apps, no 4K HDR support
Netflix is available pretty much everywhere so we didn’t expect Max to match its device count on day 1, but we were still surprised when HBO Max launched without apps for devices. Roku and Amazon Fire TV and are incredibly popular, with a combined 70% of the streaming player market. And everyone who has Roku or Fire TV can’t use it to watch HBO Max.
We expect Roku and Fire TV apps for HBO Max to appear soon and they’re you can watch Max on a variety of TV and mobile devices as well as PC browsers.once the companies work out their deals. But who there’s no telling exactly when. In the meantime
Another big feature missing from Max is support for the highest-quality audio and video formats, namelyand , and . Currently its best video quality is with standard dynamic range for now and its best audio quality is Dolby Digital 5.1. A spokesperson for HBO Max told CNET that “4K HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10 Plus and Dolby Atmos are on our roadmap” but didn’t specify when they’d arrive. .
Netflix leads the industry in 4K and HDR (including Dolby Vision and Atmos) support and offers up to four simultaneous streams, depending on which plan you choose.
|Number of screens you can watch on at the same time||1||2||4|
|Ultra HD available||No||No||Yes|
HBO Max has just one plan and it’s $14.99 a month, although HBO’s corporate parentfor subscribers to its wireless phone and TV plans. But the entry price of Netflix in HD is still cheaper and Netflix has more pricing options.
Tough to beat the king
There’s a reason Netflix is the most popular subscription streaming service in the world. Meanwhile, HBO Time Warner is one of the biggest names in media, period. The massive Max service comes closer than any other to matching the breadth and depth you get from a Netflix subscription, but. Chances are you’ll find plenty to watch on both services, however, and HBO Max is definitely worth the audition if you’re curious.
Now’s the time to try something new, particularly if you’ve.
Here’s what HBO Max looks like on TVs, phones and tablets
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