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Disney+ Vs. HBO Max: Deciding Which Subscription Is Right For You

Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria in West Side Story Tonight balcony scene
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

There are a ton of streaming services out there. So much so, you are pretty much paying the same price as cable if you have all of the major platforms. And as much as we would love love to have all of the services, sometimes a tough decision needs to be made about which one is the best option for our interests, budgets and other factors. 

Today, we will turn our attention to the battle between Disney+ vs. HBO Max, two of the most popular and versatile platforms available right now. Over the course of the next few minutes, I will break down how much each service costs, what comes included with that monthly (or annual) fee, and things that each platform offers that can’t be found on the other. This is not to say which one is better but instead to break down each offering so that you can make a better decision.

Ron and Barney in Ron's Gone Wrong

(Image credit: Locksmith Animation)

How Much Does Each Service Cost

First and foremost, you’re going to want to know how much each service is going to cost you each month. Luckily, we have a full breakdown of the pricing structure for both platforms.

A Disney+ subscription has a fairly easy-to-follow pricing situation in that it costs $7.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual membership (around $6.69 per month). There is the Disney+ bundle (opens in new tab)that includes Hulu and ESPN+ which will set you back $13.99 per month ($19.99 for the ad-free model). There is no annual option for this plan.

There are two HBO Max subscription plans: the ad-supported option that costs $9.99 per month and the standard ad-free version that comes in at $14.99 per month. There are also annual subscriptions which cost $99.99 per month and $149.99 per month, depending on which option you choose.

Florence Pugh on Hawkeye

(Image credit: Disney)

Original Content On HBO Max And Disney+ 

With classic movies and shows bouncing from one streaming service to another these days, a strong library of original content is a major selling point for each platform. In terms of quality, Disney+ and HBO Max are near, or at, the top of the list. But while each is great in its own way, these two streaming services have completely different offerings.

HBO Max’s offerings are all across the board and include the The Tourist, The Flight Attendant, and the hilarious (and ridiculously popular) Peacemaker. And the list of the best HBO Max documentaries is another collection of moving series and films covering a wide range of topics.

When it comes to the movies and shows exclusive to Disney+, expect on seeing Marvel shows like Moon Knight and Star Wars programs like Obi-Wan Kenobi, which are possible because the House of Mouse’s acquisitions of both brands over the course of the past decade. There are also exclusive movies like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Pixar’s latest offering, Turning Red.

Heath Ledger as The Joker

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Superhero Movies On Disney+ And HBO Max

Perhaps the biggest draw to Disney+ and HBO Max is the ridiculous amount of superhero content each platform offers their users. 

If you want to watch the Marvel movies in order, then you will want to subscribe to Disney+ as the service hosts most of the movies in the MCU. Also included are the legacy Marvel movies (the X-Men franchise, Fantastic 4 movies, multiple Marvel animated series, etc.) And the Netflix Marvel shows will soon be arriving, making this one hell of a package.

Since HBO Max is owned by Warner Media, the streaming service is home to a lot of DC Comics movies, shows (live-action and animated), and programs. With Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, classic Superman films, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you’ll spend hours upon hours navigating Gotham City, Metropolis, and other famous locations.

All of You scene in Encanto

(Image credit: Disney)

Family-Friendly Content On Each Service

Disney+ and HBO Max both have a lot of family-friendly content that will keep you entertained for hours. Personally, these are the two streaming services I turn to the most whenever planning “Friday Night Movie Night” with my wife and kids.

Disney+ is going to give you all those classic Disney animated movies, Pixar films, and other random movies that range from Rookie of the Year to Freaky Friday. Nothing too scary, risqué, or controversial here.

HBO Max, on the other hand, has a large portion of the Studio Ghibli movies, which has long been a big hit with my daughter since the service launched in 2020. There are also classics like The Iron Giant, The LEGO Movie, and so much more.

Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

HBO Max And Disney+ Users Have Access To A Lot Of Movies

There are so many movies on HBO Max and Disney+ it can sometimes be hard to manage, the libraries are that massive.

With HBO Max, you’ll have access to the Harry Potter movies, the Jurassic Park trilogy, and a large collection of Oscar winners on top of the all original movies and other classics. The list of the best movies on HBO Max is nothing to overlook when making a decision like this, especially with the number of Criterion Collection titles hiding out in the TCM hub.

As mentioned earlier, Disney+ is going to give you access to the Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney collections, which is something no other service can say about itself. And thanks to the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the platform is home to the likes of the Night at the Museum trilogy, Home Alone, and more.

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in bus fight scene

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Disney+ Has Dozens Of 4K and IMAX-Enhanced Movies

You have probably noticed by now but there are a lot of new movies popping up on both Disney+ and HBO Max, but there is one thing you should know before pressing play on either service. While HBO Max only offers movies like West Side Story and Free Guy in HD, Disney+ offers both of those titles, plus dozens of others in 4K UHD, and they play without any issues. This can’t be said about the 2021 Warner Bros. movies on HBO Max, which caused my Roku to overheat about 30 minutes in.

On top of the 4K movies, Disney+ also has IMAX-enhanced versions of movies like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and most of the more recent Marvel movies. I’ve watched a few of the movies this way and it is a great way of replicating the theater experience.

It should be noted that HBO Max does offer 4K movies, but the selection is limited to the 2021 Warner Bros. releases, the Matrix movies, and a few other select titles. But  only those with HBO Max's ad-free option can access these versions.

Sign up for the Disney+ bundle that includes Hulu and ESPN+:  $13.99/month (opens in new tab)

Michael K Williams as Omar on The Wire

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO Max Gives Users Access To Classic HBO Shows

One of the biggest pluses when it comes to HBO Max is the fact you immediately have access to all the classic HBO shows that revolutionized TV over the past 30 years. Whether it’s hard-hitting shows like Oz or The Wire, comedies like Flight of the Conchords, or shows like High Maintenance that ended way too soon, they’re all there. Been meaning to binge The Sopranos? HBO Max has it. Want to finally check out Deadwood? Yep, it’s there. My only beef is that you can’t watch every episode of Real Sports or Last Week Tonight.

Basically, no one can make the decision in the battle of Disney+ vs. HBO Max besides yourself because there are so many different factors that will mean something different to everyone. But if you do need some help in making that decision, take a look at the 2022 TV schedule and see which service has more shows you'd want to watch and then go from there.

Philip Sledge
Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.