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Disney Plus vs HBO Max
November 17, 2020
Once upon a time, there was one big video streaming service in town and just about everyone sang its praises. We’re talking, of course, about Netflix. Netflix really kicked off a new era in terms of how people consume video entertainment, leading many other companies to try and jump on the bandwagon.
Though plenty of media conglomerates were more than happy to stuff their libraries into Netflix at one point, these entities quickly realized they could keep all the money for themselves by doing their own thing. Fast forward to today, and we have services like Disney+ and HBO Max, which serve to highlight content produced by Disney and AT&T-Time Warner, respectively.
With more services, however, comes more confusion. Which one is right for you? Which should you subscribe to in order to get the most bang for your buck? Today we’re going to hit the good and the bad of both Disney+ and HBO Max, then tell you which we believe will provide you the best entertainment.
An on-demand streaming video service from Disney
An on-demand streaming video service from HBO
Disney+, to its credit, doesn’t try to promise you the world. It’s not saying, “We’re going to have all of the TV shows and all of the movies.” To be blunt, what Disney+ provides is right there in the name. It’s a portal to all things Disney, which is actually quite a lot these days — Disney owns Marvel Studios and Star Wars, among other things. If you enjoy Disney properties and shows you might watch on The Disney Channel, you’ll be more than happy with what Disney+ has to offer.
HBO Max, on the other hand, is trying to do a little bit of everything. It has past seasons of hit TV shows, blockbuster movies that span decades, and award-winning original programs. In terms of its movie selection, HBO Max is always rotating new content in, too, so what isn’t in the lineup one week might show up in the next week. The mission for HBO Max, it seems, is not to exist as a supplement to your typical media diet, but to be the main course. If you want a service that will check many boxes for you instead of just a few, HBO Max could potentially do that.
Both of these services are all about on-demand content, meaning you can start and stop the movies in the catalog whenever you want. Neither has live TV streaming.
As of this writing, there’s one more big difference between Disney+ and HBO Max, and that’s which devices you can use them with. Unfortunately, HBO Max’s app is looking pretty isolated right now: It doesn’t work on Roku or Fire TV.
Do you want to utterly shock yourself? Sit down for a moment and try to list out every property owned by Disney. You can start with the animated films, for instance, which includes Toy Story, The Lion King, and so on. Oh, but Disney owns Marvel Studios, too! Tack on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then, and all of its movies. And then there is Star Wars, so go ahead and list out every Star Wars film and TV series. That’s already quite a lot, isn’t it? And that’s not even all of it. That’s just of taste of the kind of content you can expect from Disney+. All of that is why Disney+ exists.
HBO Max, meanwhile, is a bit more of a mixed bag. It’s HBO, so of course you can expect movies — HBO does stand for “Home Box Office,” after all. Movies go across the spectrum from “very old” to “last summer’s blockbuster.” There are also TV shows that once appeared on other networks, but now stream on HBO Max thanks to that service securing some deals. And you’ve probably heard of shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Big Little Lies, right? Those belong to HBO, and HBO Max has them all.
Disney+ is almost absurdly cheap at the moment — almost to the point where one might wonder if a price increase will happen at some point. The monthly subscription fee for all of Disney+’s content rings up at a mere $6.99. If you want some additional content on top of what Disney+ provides, you can bundle the service with Hulu and ESPN+ for a grand total of $12.99 per month. That is still not a bad price to pay. It’s cheaper than HBO Max, at least!
That’s not to knock HBO Max, though. That service clearly sees itself as something premium, and that’s reflected in the price. HBO Max has but one tier — a $14.99-per-month option that gets you everything HBO Max has to offer. It’s more than double the price of Disney+, but one could argue HBO Max offers a bit more variety overall.
Disney+ has some of the biggest superhero and sci-fi franchises on planet Earth. But let’s say you don’t like any of them (or maybe you’re just more of a DC fan). Let’s say you have no desire to watch Iron Man or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Just like that, you’ve cut off a lot of why Disney+ appeals to some people. Chances are, you’ll have a tough time finding something you want to watch on Disney+ if you don’t like movies like these.
HBO Max, meanwhile, seems to have a little something for everyone. Sure, you may have no desire to watch a certain movie or TV show in the lineup. Odds are, though, you’ll be able to find something else that speaks to you. It won’t just be more of the same.
Disney+ does win on price in this contest, but you have to ask yourself: Is it worth paying more for a better shot at finding something interesting? We believe in this case the answer is yes, it is. At $14.99 a month, HBO Max is not the cheapest streaming video service out there. But when stacked next to Disney+, we think it’s likely going to provide you with the best entertainment experience on a more consistent basis.
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