HBO Max app now offers free episodes of its best TV shows before you subscribe

Matthew Rhys in Perry Mason.
(Image credit: HBO)

The HBO Max app is now letting curious viewers check out the first episodes of some of its best shows before they subscribe across all devices – and you don't even have to sign up for a trial to watch them. The episodes included come from shows across the service's vast catalog, and not just HBO itself – the likes of Game of Thrones, Euphoria and the excellent Perry Mason are represented, but so too are HBO Max originals like Titans and The Flight Attendant. 

13 episodes are included at launch, with Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Lovecraft Country, Love Life, Raised By Wolves, Veneno, Warrior and Doom Patrol making up the other one-episode samplers. Over time, the streamer will cycle in and out different episodes for its free sampler lineup. 

Since HBO Max costs $14.99 ad-free, or $9.99 with ads, it's a good starting point. This builds on the existing offering, where you don't need to sign up in any form to enjoy the free episodes in your browser. In July, HBO Max unveiled a similar initiative for Snapchat users, where a limited selection of free episodes were made available to watch as part of a Snap Mini shared viewing experience. 

Those using the app can also now browse the entire HBO Max library without signing up, the streamer says, with clear signalling around which content is free and which requires a subscription. 

Analysis: This is a good fit for HBO Max in particular

HBO Max has tons going for it as a streamer, but it's pretty hard to give it a one-line pitch – yes, it's HBO, plus a load of other stuff. But the variety of everything else it makes is clearly created with Netflix in mind as a competitor. That's why it produces everything from teen dramas like Gossip Girl to more reality-oriented TV, which is far outside of the adult drama and comedy you typically expect from the HBO label.

The service has a big userbase at 47 million US subscribers – that's the number released in July. At last count, Netflix has a towering 73.95 million subscribers in the US. That's still a lot of people to play for, and as the fight for streaming dollars continues, letting people sample a broad spread of that HBO Max library is sensible. It'll maybe educate Netflix users on what they might be missing out on.

Ultimately, just through the depth of its library, HBO Max is definitely a strong rival to Netflix – certainly when it comes to TV shows. This just helps to tell that story. 

Samuel Roberts

Samuel is a PR Manager at game developer Frontier. Formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor, he's an expert in Marvel, Star Wars, Netflix shows and general streaming stuff. Before his stint at TechRadar, he spent six years at PC Gamer. Samuel is also the co-host of the popular Back Page podcast, in which he details the trials and tribulations of being a games magazine editor – and attempts to justify his impulsive eBay games buying binges.