I Almost Canceled HBO Max -- Until I Ran the Numbers

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  • I signed up for HBO Max earlier this year when COVID-19 surges kept me stuck at home.
  • I had planned to cancel the service a few months later but decided to keep it for one big reason.

I pay for multiple streaming services. But in the end, I'm okay with having one more.

The winter of 2022 did not pan out the way a lot of us expected it to. We can thank a massive surge of COVID-19 infections fueled by the omicron variant for that.

In the Northeast, where I live, that COVID wave hit hard, so much so that there was a four-week period when my family pretty much had to get a COVID test every three days. That situation canceled a lot of our plans -- and created a situation where we spent pretty much all of January, and much of February, stuck in the house.

Early on in the year, my husband found a promotion for HBO Max which we desired to sign up for. The promo allowed us to pay $12 a month for HBO Max, as opposed to its usual $15 rate, for our first year. Since we weren't required to sign a contract and could cancel at any time, we figured we'd spend the $12 a month during that period of being cooped up at home, and then stop spending that money when things opened up.

But when we sat down to cancel HBO Max, we realized we were better off keeping it. Here's why.

It's a small price for entertainment

Since my family has access to streaming services outside of HBO Max, we figured our subscription with it would be short-lived. But once we started using HBO Max, we found that it had a decent amount of content not just for us grown-ups, but also for our kids. 

And so we decided to do some number-crunching. While I don't watch a ton of non-sports TV, my husband and I still found that HBO Max provided at least an hour of weekly entertainment for us. And it easily provided another hour of separate weekly entertainment for our kids. 

On a monthly basis, that amounts to roughly 16 hours of programming, or less than $1 an hour. And given that price point, the service seemed worth keeping.

While my kids do a pretty good job of staying busy during the week, sometimes cold or rainy weekends can be a challenge. And now, HBO Max gives my kids something to do on a Saturday or Sunday. For that reason, it's worth keeping.

Plus, in those scenarios, it can save us money. Now that COVID-19 cases are down, my family might take our kids to the movies on a rainy Saturday afternoon and spend upwards of $50 for a couple of hours of entertainment. If my kids can watch a movie on HBO Max instead, we're already up financially.

Run the numbers

If you already pay for a number of streaming services and don't think you'll use HBO Max all that much, then you might as well not have that extra charge on your credit card each month. But before you make that call, run the numbers and see what HBO Max might cost you on an hourly basis. If it's not a huge amount, you may want to sign up -- especially if your subscription keeps you busy enough that you're not compelled to spend extra money elsewhere.

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