If you're looking for blockbuster movies, compelling originals, and classic TV, Paramount+ and HBO Max are some of your best choices. But if you could only choose one, which would it be?
We'll consider price, features, and, of course, content. In the end, you'll decide the best fit for you. Price Comparison
HBO Max and Paramount+ each offer ad-supported and ad-free versions.
If you want to avoid ads entirely, HBO Max costs $14.99 / month, but you can save with an annual plan for $149.99 / year.
The ad-free tier of Paramount+ is $9.99 / month or $99.99 / year.
HBO Max with commercials costs $9.99 / month or $99.99 / year.
The ad-supported version of Paramount+ is $4.99 / month, but you can save with an annual plan for $49.99 / year.
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If you'd like, you can add Paramount+ and HBO Max to your Prime Video subscription so you have a single interface.
If you have Hulu or Hulu Live TV, you can add HBO Max to that service. Just click 'manage plan' on your account page.
HBO Max can also be added through live TV streaming providers like YouTube TV.
There's typically no price advantage to subscribing through these portals. You get one bill, which is convenient.
Live TV and Sports
This factor alone may make the decision for you. If you subscribe to Paramount+, you'll be able to watch any NFL games that appear on your local CBS affiliate. You'll also get UEFA Champions League soccer. That's true of both the ad-supported and ad-free plan.
However, if you subscribe at the Paramount+ Premium level, you'll be able to watch everything on your local CBS channel within the Paramount+ app. Premium subscribers also get SEC Football, The Masters, March Madness, PGA TOUR and The PGA Championship, women's soccer, and Combate Global MMA.
HBO was once famous for boxing, but it no longer airs any fights. The best sports programming on HBO Max is 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,' but you won't find many live contests.
Both services feature an incredible library of films that go back 100 years. That's the benefit of having the Warner Bros. and Paramount vaults at your fingertips. Each service has some all-time great movies. While the library of each service fluctuates a bit, most of the titles we'll cite will always be on the platform.
HBO Max comes ready for a fight with the superheroes of DC Comics. You'll find the adventures of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman here.
HBO Max also has standouts like the Mad Max franchise, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and 'The Matrix.' You could make a case it's the very best streaming service if you like action.
Paramount+ battles back with action landmarks like the Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible franchises. While you won't find many superheroes on Paramount+, it's the home to the high-flying sci-fi adventures of Star Trek.
HBO Max always has a good stable of comedies like 'The Hangover,' 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' 'Airplane!,' and 'Wedding Crashers.'
Paramount+ delivers the laughs with movies like 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' 'Mean Girls,' 'Anchorman,' 'School of Rock,' 'The Addams Family,' and 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.'
You'll find a lot to like on HBO Max with scary flicks like 'The Shining,' 'IT,' 'The Exorcist,' 'Sweeny Todd,' 'The Witch,' and 'The Blair Witch Project.'
Paramount+ delivers an equally spooky slate with thrillers like 'A Quiet Place,' 'Smile,' 'Rosemary's Baby,' 'The Ring,' 'World War Z,' and the 'Paranormal Activity' franchise.
Paramount+ has award-winning films like 'Forrest Gump,' 'The Godfather,' 'Gladiator,' 'Titanic,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'and 'Collateral.'
HBO Max counters with some all-time greats like 'The Shawshank Redemption,' 'Spotlight,' 'Training Day,' '12 Years a Slave,' 'Rain Man,' 'Moon.' HBO Max also has most of Martin Scorsese's filmography like 'GoodFellas,' 'Raging Bull,' and 'The Departed.'
Do you prefer the silent comedies of Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? If Keaton is your man, head to Paramount+ for 'The General' and more. Chaplin camps out at HBO Max with 'Modern Times,' 'City Lights,' and 'The Great Dictator.'
HBO Max has an envious slate of all-stars like 'Citizen Kane,' 'Gone With the Wind,' 'Singin' in the Rain,' 'The Wizard of Oz,' and 'Casablanca.' ‘You'll also get Stanley Kubrick standouts like 'A Clockwork Orange,' and '2001: A Space Odyssey.'
HBO Max is home to Akira Kurosawa masterworks like 'Rashomon,' 'Seven Samurai,' and 'Yojimbo.' You'll get Ingmar Bergman's filmography with movies like 'Cries and Whispers,' 'Through a Glass Darkly,' and 'Wild Strawberries.'
In fact, 7 out of the 10 best films of all time according to the British Film Institute's 2022 Sight and Sound poll can be found on HBO Max. Paramount+ only has three of the top 100, while HBO Max has nearly half the entire list.
Paramount+ counters with classics like 'My Fair Lady,' 'Paper Moon,' 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' 'The Conversation,' 'His Girl Friday,' 'The Odd Couple,' 'Guys and Dolls,' and 'Cabaret.'
Paramount+ is also home to a huge, huge selection of old westerns, headlined by 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,' 'Shane,' and 'True Grit.' But you also have more obscure titles like 1958's 'The Proud Rebel,' 1941's 'Saddle Mountain Roundup,' and 1925's 'Tumbleweeds.'
If you love stars from the dawn of cinema, Paramount+ will be your choice. You'll find films from Mary Pickford, Hedy Lamarr, Harold Lloyd, Claude Rains, John Barrymore, and Gene Autry.
HBO Max is home to some of the most important TV shows of the last 30+ years. You'll find modern classics like 'The Sopranos,' 'True Detective,' 'Euphoria,' 'Succession,' 'The Wire,' 'Deadwood,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'Sex and the City,' and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'
The miniseries genre is especially strong for HBO Max, with all-stars like 'Chernobyl,' 'John Adams,' 'The Pacific,' 'Watchmen,' 'Station Eleven,' 'Band of Brothers,' and 'From the Earth to the Moon.'
HBO Max also has some shows you might not expect, like 'South Park,' 'Friends,' and 'The Big Bang Theory.'
While HBO Max probably wins on quality, Paramount+ easily wins on volume. When you subscribe to Paramount+, you're getting almost every show from BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Smithsonian Channel.
For originals, Paramount+ is leaning heavily on 'Yellowstone' co-creator Taylor Sheridan with 'Tulsa King,' 'Mayor of Kingstown,' and the 'Yellowstone' prequel series '1883' and '1923,' starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.
You'll also get the full runs of every 'Star Trek' show on Paramount+.
Paramount+ also has virtual 'channels' that show 24/7 reruns of hits like 'Survivor,' 'The Amazing Race,' 'Beavis and Butt-head,' and 'I Love Lucy.'
The battle is pretty lopsided here. Paramount+ has the Nickelodeon library with 'PAW Patrol,' 'Spongebob Squarepants,' 'Digby Dragon,' 'Rugrats,' 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' 'Peppa Pig,' and much more.
For movies, Paramount+ offers 'Sonic the Hedgehog,' 'Mouse Hunt,' 'Clifford the Big Red Dog,' and the animated 'Addams Family' movies.
HBO Max has been throttling back on its kid-focused library, dumping hundreds of episodes of 'Sesame Street' and 'Looney Tunes' off the platform. You will find 'The Lego Movie,' a few seasons of 'The Flintstones,' and animated Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman adventures. Older kids might enjoy 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' or 'Rick and Morty.'
You can watch Paramount+ with Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Android TV, iPhone/iPad, Android Phone/Tablet, Mac, Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, Sony Smart TV, and VIZIO Smart TV.
For HBO Max, you can use Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, Android TV, iPhone/iPad, Android Phone/Tablet, Mac, Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, Sony Smart TV, and VIZIO Smart TV.
What the Future Holds
The future for both services is uncertain to some degree.
HBO Max will merge with discovery+ in the next few months, which means subscribers will then have access to many popular unscripted shows. However, Warner Bros. Discovery management has made many financial decisions that have angered subscribers. Previously approved projects have been canned before seeing the light of day, and several shows have disappeared from the platform entirely.
It's possible the newly merged service will prove popular, but some subscribers may abandon the platform if the content slate stagnates. It appears the HBO side of things is in for some belt-tightening, which won't translate into the innovation the brand is famous for.
We also know that new ownership frowns on direct-to-streaming movies, so it's unlikely HBO Max will see exclusive films. Warner Bros. movies will get a run in theaters before going to HBO Max.
HBO Max subscribers may not see an initial price increase after the discovery+ merger, but the cost is likely to increase soon to reflect the bundle.
Paramount Global seems absolutely focused on building its streaming brand. Its new originals have been popular with subscribers, and its price point is appealing. The company got burned by letting streaming rights of some of their biggest shows ('South Park' and 'Yellowstone') go to competitors, but that's a mistake they won't make again. Thanks to its wide array of channels, Paramount knows how to create franchises and shows the audience will love.
The movie side of Paramount+ does seem a bit weaker. While popular IP like 'The Godfather,' 'Transformers,' and 'A Quiet Place' can be found on the platform, those properties don't lend themselves to the sprawl of Marvel or Star Wars. There's a lot to love for 'Star Trek' fans, however. The upcoming Paramount Pictures slate leans heavily on those existing franchises, which may mean growth could stagnate.
Ultimately, these services are extremely evenly matched, and you're likely to enjoy both. Given that you can try both services for free, it's worth trying both and seeing which service works best for you.
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