Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Netflix vs HBO Max
November 19, 2020
Cut the cord on cable, and you’ll likely be tempted to subscribe to Netflix. In fact, many cord-havers are Netflix subscribers, too — Netflix is the most popular streaming service on Earth. But HBO Max, the flagship streaming service from HBO, is quickly gaining ground on Netflix and other streaming video providers. HBO Max is fairly similar to Netflix in that both are on-demand video services with comparable pricing and popular original series.
Let’s take a look at the differences between these two streaming services along with their pros and cons. Read through this guide and you’ll have all the information you need to choose between Netflix and HBO Max.
Netflix and HBO Max are both subscription on-demand streaming services. That means that both services charge a monthly fee for access to a catalog of movies and TV shows that you can start, pause, and re-start at your leisure.
Both series are known for great original content, but HBO Max’s original content is widely regarded as superior to that of Netflix. Netflix has its fair share of elite original content, too, but it sometimes seems to focus more on the quantity of its original content than on the quality of that content. HBO Max’s original content includes popular HBO shows such as The Wire and Sopranos (we consider all HBO originals to also be HBO Max originals, even if they came out before HBO Max existed).
HBO Max can be added to cable packages and other streaming services. Netflix isn’t accessible with cable packages.
HBO Max has a platform support problem: As of this writing, it isn’t accessible through Roku or Amazon Fire TV. That’s something we weren’t thrilled by in our HBO Max review. Netflix is available through Roku, Fire TV, and all other major streaming platforms.
Netflix allows one stream at a time with its Basic package, two streams in its Standard package and up to four streams in its Premium package. HBO Max permits subscribers to use up to three streams at once. Netflix provides full HD in its Standard plan and 4K HDR on its Premium plan. HBO Max doesn’t provide content in 4K HDR.
Netflix’s strengths are its exclusives and expansive breadth of original programming. HBO Max’s strengths are its top-notch original content, its surplus of popular movies and its popular TV shows.
Both Netflix and HBO Max provide on-demand content, and both have TV series as well as movies. HBO Max has more recently released films than Netflix, so you may have to wait longer after a movie is released to watch it on Netflix than you would if you used HBO Max (of course, this will vary depending on the movie).
Both streaming services have plenty of original content. Examples of HBO Max original content include Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Westworld and The Wire.
Most HBO Max originals are also available through HBO’s other streaming service, HBO Now, as well as on the HBO cable channel. But HBO Max also has some exclusive originals unavailable to those who subscribe to the regular HBO service. As an example, HBO Max provides access to the popular romance series Love Life featuring Anna Kendrick, new Looney Tunes episodes and the Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo. It will soon also have Justice League: The Snyder Cut. This content is unavailable on regular HBO. HBO Max will continue to launch additional content in the future, so there’s lots for us to look forward to here.
Netflix has plenty of original content, too. Examples of Netflix original content include Stranger Things, Tiger King and 13 Reasons Why. While some of Netflix’s original content may seem a little bit like filler to critical viewers, the service certainly has its share of critically acclaimed masterpieces. On top of well-reviewed hit series like Stranger Things, Netflix has original films like the Oscar-winning Roma.
HBO’s selective catalog includes recently released films and its elite original content, but Netflix has a larger content library.
HBO Max provides new episodes on a weekly basis. Netflix uploads content all at once. If you enjoy watching the latest episodes of your favorite series each week, you’ll be satisfied with HBO Max. If you prefer to binge-watch several episodes in one sitting — or even an entire series in a day or two — Netflix will suit your fancy.
Our streaming experts at CordCutting.com feel that HBO Max’s movie catalog includes better films on average than Netflix’s — but, remember, it’s also smaller. As of this writing, HBO Max’s catalog includes top titles like Crazy Rich Asians and A Star is Born. HBO Max also has some great shows, including Doctor Who, South Park and Friends. (These shows are HBO Max, but not on regular old HBO.) Netflix has plenty of movies and shows, too. Netflix’s top content can hold its own against HBO Max’s content, but the service’s larger catalog is filled out with some less impressive titles, too. Of course, sometimes you want to watch a trashy reality show — and when you do, Netflix will be there.
Netflix charges $8.99 per month for its Basic plan and $15.99 per month for its Premium plan, but its most popular plan is the Standard plan, which costs $12.99 per month. HBO Max costs $14.99 per month.
If you prefer a wide range of on-demand content and want the largest possible library, lean toward Netflix. If you want consistently high-quality content and don’t mind a comparably small library, HBO Max is the better choice. If you want to watch the latest releases, HBO Max is the better on-demand streaming service for you. If you want to watch movies and series through Roku or Fire TV, though, you’d better opt for Netflix — at least until HBO Max gets its act together and releases an app for those platforms.
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