AT&T Adjusts Top Plan, Removes Unlimited Elite and HBO Max Option

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Eli Blumenthal
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What's happening

AT&T no longer bundles HBO Max with its top unlimited plan.

Why it matters

The move means the carrier does not offer a video streaming service with any of its wireless plans, though existing customers who have HBO Max included can still use the service.

What's next

Verizon has announced that HBO Max will be a partner for its new Plus Play program launching later this year, making it possible deals for HBO could soon come from one of AT&T's wireless rivals.

If you were thinking of switching to AT&T or upgrading your plan to get HBO Max, you may need to think again. This week, the telecom giant quietly updated its top unlimited wireless plan, dropping the Unlimited Elite option in favor of a new Unlimited Premium offering. 

The pricing remains the same ($85 per month for a single line, $50 per month, per line if on a family plan with four lines), but there are two differences. The new Unlimited Premium now comes with 50GB per month of high-speed hotspot data (up from 40GB per month on Elite) and, more notably, no longer comes with HBO Max included. 

"HBO Max is a great service, but we constantly experiment with the features we offer our customers to give them the best value," AT&T spokesman Jim Greer said. Greer added that those who already have an Unlimited Elite plan with the carrier will continue to receive free HBO Max. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the company's prepaid carrier, Cricket Wireless, continues to offer HBO Max's ad-supported tier as part of its highest-priced unlimited plan.  

Read moreBest TV Streaming Service Deals

The dropping of the Unlimited Elite and its bundled HBO Max subscription comes nearly two months after the completion of the Warner Bros. Discovery megamerger, a $43 billion deal that saw AT&T exit the media business and combine its WarnerMedia assets with Discovery. 

With this week's move, AT&T no longer has a video streaming partner for its main wireless service. The carrier has previously included HBO or HBO Max in some of its unlimited plans dating back to 2017 and it, along with rivals T-Mobile and Verizon, have used the bundling of streaming services as a way to attract customers or encourage existing subscribers to switch to newer, sometimes pricier, unlimited plans. 

T-Mobile has long offered free subscriptions to Netflix with some of its offerings and, depending on the plan you have, now also offers a free year of Paramount Plus Essentials and Apple TV Plus

Verizon has frequently advertised its offering of the Disney Bundle (Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu) with some of its higher-priced unlimited plans in recent years, and has previously offered a free year of Discovery Plus. Earlier this year, Verizon introduced a Plus Play content management platform and in April announced that HBO Max will be a partner in that service. 

Verizon has said that a full launch of Plus Play will be coming later this year, with the program offering "exclusive deals." It remains to be seen if Verizon will offer any deals for HBO Max as part of Plus Play.