HBO Now vs. HBO Max: What's The Difference?

Making sense of the different HBOs

HBO Max may be the latest arrival in the streaming TV world from HBO, but it's not the only option the company offers. There's also HBO Now. Confused about the difference between HBO Now and HBO Max? Here's what you need to know about each streaming service.

Curious about how HBO Max differs from HBO Go, rather than Now? We've got you covered in HBO Max vs. HBO Go: What's The Difference?

HBO Max and HBO Now logos
Lifewire

Overall Findings: HBO Max vs. HBO Now

HBO Max
  • Huge library of content from HBO, DC Comics, TCM, Sesame Workshop, and more.

  • HBO's streaming service of the future.

  • Doesn't work on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

HBO Now
  • Offers the classic, core HBO series like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The Wire, and more.

  • No longer taking new subscribers.

  • May eventually go away.

There are three different services with HBO in their name. That's confusing! (Apple has the same problem with its three different products called "Apple TV.") For cord cutters and those who only want to stream their TV and movies, there are only two options HBO Max and HBO Now.

If you're a current HBO Now subscriber, you can keep using that service—for now (more on that later in the article). If you're a new subscriber, HBO Max is the only thing you can sign up for.

And that's not a bad thing! HBO Max has a huge library of content, including everything offered by HBO Now. The only drawback is that HBO Max doesn't yet work on some of the streaming devices support by HBO Now (more on that in the compatibility section).

Content: HBO Max Maxes out HBO Now

HBO Max
  • Biggest content library.

  • Includes HBO Max original shows and movies.

  • Great kids programming from Sesame Workshop, Studio Ghibli, and Looney Tunes.

  • Huge movie selection.

HBO Now
  • Offers core, classic HBO series.

  • Includes children's programming from Sesame Workshop.

  • Only offers movies available through HBO.

There's no question that HBO Max has the largest selection of movies and TV. HBO Max delivers all of the movies and TV shows that HBO Now has, but it also adds a huge selection of content from other sources. In addition to the core HBO offerings, Max brings DC Universe movies and TV shows, programming from Sesame Workshop and Studio Ghibli, movies from Turner Classic Movies (TCM), a growing suite of HBO Max original movies and TV, and much more.

Cost & Availability: Same Price

HBO Max
  • US$14.99/month.

  • Available on a large number of platforms (but not Roku, etc).

  • HBO Max is the future of HBO streaming.

HBO Now
  • $14.99/month.

  • Available on a large number of platforms (including Roku).

  • No longer accepting new subscribers.

Believe it or not, but HBO Max and HBO Now are the exact same price: US$14.99/month. That's largely because Max is replacing Now, and HBO wants to smoothly transition customers from one service to the other. It's easy to do that when the price is the same.

The major difference here is availability. HBO Max can't be used on quite as many platforms as HBO Now, which is crucial if you only use one of those platforms. More on that in the next section.

HBO Now is no longer accepting new subscribers. Current users can maintain their accounts—for now—but if you're not an HBO subscriber yet, Max is your only option.

Compatibility: HBO Now Can Be Used on More Platforms

HBO Max
  • Works on iOS, iPad, Apple TV, and Android.

  • Works on computers and Chromebooks.

  • Doesn't work on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

HBO Now
  • Works on iOS, iPad, Apple TV, and Android.

  • Works on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

  • Works on computers and Chromebooks.

Even though HBO Max is newer, HBO Now can actually be used on more platforms and devices. That's because—crucially—HBO Max isn't yet available on Roku or Amazon Fire TV devices, which combine to make up a huge percentage of the streaming device market.

Here are the platforms that HBO Max and HBO Now work on:

  HBO Max HBO Now
iPhone iOS 12.2 and up discontinued 
iPad iPadOS 13 and up discontinued
Android Android OS 5 and up discontinued
Windows Windows 7 and up Windows 7 and up
macOS macOS 10.10 Yosemite and up macOS 10.10 Yosemite and up
Chromebook yes yes
Apple TV 4th gen. and newer 4th gen. and newer
Roku no 3rd gen. and newer
Amazon Fire TV no yes
Playstation 4 yes yes
Xbox One yes yes
Samsung Smart TVs yes (list of compatible TVs) no

For the Future: HBO Max Is the Future

HBO Max
  • HBO Max is the future of HBO's streaming services.

  • HBO Now is likely to be retired at some point.

HBO Now
  • HBO Now still exists, for now—but for how long?

As shown in the compatibility chart in the last section, HBO Now is discontinued on some of the most widely used platforms in the world (iOS and Android). That's because HBO has converted the HBO Now app to HBO Max on those platforms. That's a preview of coming attractions.

HBO's long-term future is HBO Max. Once HBO Max is available on Roku and Amazon Fire, expect that HBO Now will be retired for good and your only option will be HBO Max.

Final Verdict: HBO Max Should Be Your Choice (Unless You Have a Roku or Amazon Fire)

There's only one reason to keep using HBO Now instead of HBO Max: If you have a Roku or Amazon Fire streaming device. As already mentioned, those devices can't run HBO Max, so HBO Now is your only option.

If you have any other kind of device, you should switch over to HBO Max (if you haven't already). When compared to HBO Now, HBO Max is the same price, has much more content, and it's the future.