HBO Max’s cheaper, ad-supported tier nixes downloads and 4K HDR streaming

If you want to save $5 a month on HBO Max, you’ll have to put up with missing features as well as advertisements.

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Jared Newman / IDG

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As promised, HBO Max’s more affordable but ad-supported plan launched today, and we also learned more details about what you’ll be missing compared to the ad-free version.

We already knew that HBO Max “With Ads,” which costs $10 a month and offers up all the TV shows and most of the movies available in the $15-a-month ad-free plan, would not include first-run Warner Bros. movies for 2021, including The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, and Matrix 4.

But a chart on the HBO Max site reveals other key features that viewers will forgo if they want to save $5 a month on the “With Ads” plan.

One of those features is 4K HDR streaming, although for now, that’s a mostly moot issue for $10-a-month HBO Max subscribers.

The reason: Up to this point, HBO Max has only offered 4K and Dolby Vision-enabled presentations of “day-and-date” Warner Bros. movies, with two exceptions: Wonder Woman 1984 (which recently circled back to HBO Max after premiering on the service and in theaters last Christmas) and Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Of course, the lack of 4K HDR streaming for With Ads users will become more vexing once HBO Max finally begins filling out its 4K collection—say, for example, with Game of Thrones in 4K HDR (hint, hint), or more 4K catalog movies. But for now, HBO Max With Ads subscribers would only be missing out on Wonder Woman 1984 and the new Justice League cut.

Another restriction is that $10-a-month HBO Max viewers won’t be able to download shows and movies for offline viewing. That means if you want to watch HBO Max videos without an internet connection, you’ll need to step up to the $15-a-month ad-free tier.

Other streaming services do allow users on their ad-free plans to watch 4K HDR videos, including Paramount+.

On the other hand, the restriction on video downloads for ad-supported plans isn’t so unusual. Paramount+ and Peacock have essentially the same policy, and it makes sense when you think about it: downloaded videos wouldn’t include the advertisements.

To check out HBO Max’s ad-free and with-ads plans, click here.

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