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Max and Peacock Are Getting More Expensive (Again)

They aren’t alone; a lot of streamers are raising prices. Have we hit a breaking point yet?

TV is more expensive than ever

How much money do you spend on streaming per month? Per year? A once-thrifty industry is suddenly getting more and more expensive with every new financial quarter.

For most of the 2010s, streaming was an exciting new alternative to overpriced cable TV packages. But inflation has skyrocketed since 2020, and prices are getting higher by the day. While streaming should be the option that connects struggling consumers to cheap entertainment, streaming service prices are rising along with inflation—and in some cases, even outpacing it.

Many budget-conscious consumers have to choose between their favorite services, constantly stuck in a loop of canceling and re-subscribing to services based on episode drop schedules. If this approach seems tedious, we agree—it isn’t sustainable long-term for companies either. And with every ridiculous price hike, the problem gets worse.

Paramount+, Peacock, Max, and Philo all plan to increase their prices in summer 2024; keep reading for all of the messy details, and what we think this all means.

Why trust us? Despite our company name, we love television in all its forms (Cable-and-satellite-and-fiber-and-streaming-TV-dot-com just wouldn’t have the same ring). Our entertainment experts have spent thousands of hours testing all of the best (and worst) streaming services, and hundreds more hours tracking and researching industry trends.

It’s our job to keep an eye on everything the big corporations get up to—so you can make the best decisions for your household.

Paramount+ Logo

Paramount+ is raising its prices in August

Both of Paramount+’s available plans are getting more expensive this summer:
Price now: $5.99–$11.99
Price after increase: $7.99–$12.99
For new customers: August 20, 2024
For existing customers: September 20, 2024

Paramount+ has adjusted its plans every year since its inception, but this is a pretty hefty price increase even for them.

We usually recommend Paramount+ with SHOWTIME for its great value—essentially two streaming services for the price of one. While this one-dollar price increase doesn’t change that designation, we’ll let you know when we think Paramount Global has gone too far.

What surprises us is the Essential plan’s leap from $5.99 a month to $7.99 a month. Other competitors try to keep their ad-supported plans low to entice customers to downgrade, earning the company dual revenue streams from both subscription dues and ads. But Paramount+ must have realized that its ad-supported plan was still way lower than its competitors’ prices, because $7.99 a month stays right next to similar plans from Peacock, Disney, and Hulu.

Paramount+ price history

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PlanPrice in 2021Price in 2022Price in 2023Price in August/September 2024
Paramount+ with SHOWTIME$14.99/mo.
($11.99/mo. with ads)
(ad-free only)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $4.99 in March 2021 (when CBS All-Access relaunched as Paramount+) should be equal to $5.92 in May* 2024. That means the new price, while on the lower end of ad-supported plans in the industry, is higher than inflation says it should be.

You might be able to argue that Paramount+ has added new content in those three years, but it’s removed content as well, so it’s hard to say if the higher prices are worth it.

It’s also hard to track the value of the Paramount+ with SHOWTIME offering. Paramount+ used to offer two plans with SHOWTIME and two plans without. But in 2023, it combined the Paramount+ Premium plan with the Paramount+ with SHOWTIME Premium bundle, picking a new price ($11.99 a month) that was between the prices of the two old plans ($9.99 a month and $14.99 a month, respectively). You can no longer subscribe to an ad-supported plan with SHOWTIME, or an ad-free plan without it.

But we can still analyze the ad-free Paramount+ with SHOWTIME bundle. $14.99 in August 2022 is the same as $15.90 in May 2024. So while the price has gone up, consumers are still benefiting from that 2023 restructuring; the bundle price is actually lower than inflation says it should be.

*as of writing, statistics for June 2024 are not yet available.

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Peacock is raising its prices in July

Peacock is raising its prices by two dollars across both its active plans this summer:
Price now: $5.99–$11.99
Price after increase: $7.99–$13.99
For new customers: July 18, 2024
For existing customers: August 17, 2024

This is the second time the service has increased prices in two years, and is a far cry from the “free” status that got the service its popularity when NBCUniversal introduced it in 2020.

Peacock isn’t advertising any new features or content to go along with this surprising increase, but as noted by Variety, it does come right before the 2024 Olympics. Honestly, it seems a little short-sighted.

We predict that viewers might be willing to pay these inflated prices during the Olympic season, but Peacock will have to work hard to keep users from canceling after the fact.

Peacock price history

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PlanPrice in 2020Price in 2023Price in July/August 2024
Premium Plus$9.99/mo.$11.99/mo.$13.99/mo.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows us how inflation would play out here too. An amount of $9.99 in May 2020 (when the platform debuted) should be $12.24 in May* 2024. $4.99 in May 2020 should be $6.11 in 2024, and we don’t have to tell you that free should continue to be free. Peacock’s price increases outpace the (already high) rate of inflation.

*as of writing, statistics for June 2024 are not yet available.

Max has already started raising its prices

Beginning July 4, existing Max subscribers will be charged a dollar more on both of the service’s ad-free plans:
Price now: $9.99–$19.99
Price after increase: $9.99–$20.99
For new customers: Already in place
For existing customers: July 4, 2024

Like Peacock, Max makes this its second price increase in two years.

We’re noticing a pattern. Max’s ad-supported plan always remains the same price. This suggests that Warner Bros. Discovery wants customers to downgrade to the cheaper, but poorer, experience so it can collect ad revenue.

The problem may be even worse than customers realize. When HBO Max rebranded as Max in 2023, it introduced the Ultimate Ad Free plan, an expensive ($19.99 a month) premium tier meant to compete with Netflix’s similarly bank-breaking price tag. However, rather than adding new content or features to the service, Max nerfed the Ad Free plan and gave some of its features, like extra streams and 4K viewing, to the new, more expensive tier.

This all means that to get the full experience, premium subscribers in 2024 will find themselves paying $6 more per month than they did in 2022. And that’s in addition to any other services they may subscribe to. It’s no wonder Max expects customers to flock to its ad-supported tier.

Here’s what you can expect from this price increase.

Max price history

Swipe Left to See All →
PlanPrice in 2020
(as HBO Max)
Price in 2021
(as HBO Max)
Price in 2023Price in June/July 2024
Ultimate Ad Free$19.99/mo.$20.99/mo.
Ad Free$14.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$15.99/mo.$16.99/mo.
With Ads$9.99/mo.$9.99/mo.$9.99/mo.

Going back to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $14.99 in May 2020 should be $18.36 in May* 2024. It’s hard to track the value of HBO/Max packages since the company keeps adding and modifying their perks and library. The price for the Ad Free package is less than inflation says it should be, but it offers a lesser experience than the Ad Free package from 2020 (as described above).

We can try looking at it backwards, though: $20.99 in May* 2024 would have been $17.14 in May 2020. Would you have paid that much for a streaming service at the beginning of the pandemic?

You could argue that the addition of Discovery+’s content library in 2023 justifies the price hike. After all, a Discovery+ subscription on its own is $4.99 a month with ads and $8.99 a month without. But users couldn’t opt in or out of this major change; they were forced to accept this bundle and its resulting price hike. Which is a big factor that drove consumers away from pricey, bloated cable TV bundles to begin with.

To be truly fair, let’s take a look at that weird With Ads plan. If it rose along with the rate of inflation, it should have been closer to $11.66 by May 2024. And yet it remains the only Max plan without a price increase. According to Digiday, Warner Bros. Discovery’s ad revenue rose by 51% year-over-year after raising the price of its ad-free plans (thus encouraging users to downgrade). It’s pretty clear the company’s attempting to recreate that growth in 2024, and possibly in perpetuity.

*as of writing, statistics for June 2024 are not yet available.

Philo logo

Philo is $3.00 more expensive now

Philo, the cable alternative known for its super-low subscription price, increased its price by three dollars in June 2024:
Price before: $25.00
Price after increase: $28.00
For everyone: Already raised

Streaming services can find excuses to raise their prices even without premium tiers. Another popular trick is bundling; merging two streaming services into one mega-deal. Max adopted Discovery+, Paramount+ did it with SHOWTIME, and Disney+ is in the process of eating Hulu.

But now live TV streaming services want in on the action. It justified this price increase by including AMC+ (regularly $8.99 a month) in its channel lineup.

This is great news if you want a solid discount on AMC+ content, but it’s too bad that it’s a mandatory change and not an add-on. We do wonder how many Philo subscribers would choose to get AMC+ if it was a $3.00 add-on instead.

To be fair to Philo, this is only the second time the service has increased its price in its lifespan. But it still sucks to see customers possibly pay for a service they don’t want—especially since that was one of the big problems people had with cable to begin with.

Philo price history

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PlanPrice in 2017Price in 2021Price in June 2024
Philo Core$16.00/mo.$25.00/mo.$28.00/mo.

Jumping back to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $16.00 in 2017 would be $20.37 in May* 2024. So while it’s great that the service went so many years without raising prices, it still outpaces inflation by a lot. Like Max, Philo can possibly justify this increase with its new channel additions, including full access to AMC+’s library.

This is more forgivable from Philo—a live TV streaming service that has always been a bundle of cable-like channels—than it is from Max. But in the end, it leaves a sour taste in our mouth when combined with major price hikes from other services.

*as of writing, statistics for June 2024 are not yet available.

Major streaming service prices: 2023 vs. 2024

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Streaming servicePrice in January 2023Price in August 2024
Hulu (on-demand)$7.99–$14.99/mo.$7.99–$17.99/mo.

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