New pricing option for HBO Max, Netflix embraces channel surfing

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For viewers who felt priced out of HBO Max’s $15 a month subscription fee, there will soon be a cheaper option. Starting in June, an ad-supported version of HBO Max will be available for $10 a month. 

In this version of the streaming service, content from HBO Max will have commercials, but the shows and movies from premium cable provider HBO will remain ad-free. This pricing tier could be an attractive option to lots of people, especially since it keeps commercials out of HBO programming. 

While HBO Max is working to gain new subscribers, Netflix is aiming to hold on to the ones it already has. To that end, the streamer has introduced Play Something. 

Joe Adalian at Vulture did a deep dive on the new feature. Designed to fight “decision fatigue,” Play Something will give viewers something to watch based on what they’ve previously binged. If a viewer doesn’t like what they’re offered, they can easily shuffle to the next option. In a lot of ways, Play Something is reminiscent of old-school channel surfing, which many people, especially ones exhausted by the pandemic and working and raising kids from home, may prefer to endless scrolling. 




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker