Max users grandfathered into $15.99 ad-free plan lose 4K, HDR next month

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Max subscribers who were grandfathered into the streaming company's cheapest ad-free plan are about to see their service get worse.

Those people who came to the Max service from HBO Max had access to 4K and HDR streams, as well as the ability to stream from three devices simultaneously, with their $15.99 per month plan. The plan hasn't been offered to new Max subscribers; you had to be grandfathered in.

The Verge reported today that Max has started emailing customers, informing them that they will no longer be able to access 4K or HDR streams and will be limited to streaming to two simultaneous devices at a time. The changes will happen "on or after" December 5, the publication said.

To get 4K, HDR10, and Dolby Vision streams, subscribers have to move up to Max's Ultimate plan, which starts at $19.99/month. The plan offers 100 downloads compared to the cheaper ad-free plan's 30 downloads.

Warner Bros. Discovery warned people that the legacy plan would eventually go away when it merged Discovery+ and HBO Max in May. But it's still a sour experience to suddenly have fewer features for the same price. In fact, HBO Max's cheapest ad-free plan used to be $1 cheaper up until January, when the streaming service enacted its first price hike since debuting in 2020 (that was before HBO Max became Max).

The move could entice subscribers to pay the extra $4 for 4K and HDR streams. Max has been better about offering 4K content than HBO had been in the past, though, subscribers may want to peruse the streaming service's 4K library before deciding to pay more. Subscribers could also opt to move to Max's cheaper (starts at $9.99 per month) ad tier. Streaming services are having a love affair with ad tiers, with some reporting that it brings higher average revenue per user than ad-less tiers.

But others may simply choose to drop their Max subscription. If that's the case, they still have until December to watch all the 4K HDR they want.

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