How to watch HBO Max in Australia
Unless you live in the USA, there’s no straightforward way to watch content available on streaming services like Hulu and HBO Max, which is definitely true of Australia. While there’s currently no HBO Max Australia, there are ways to watch bits of the respective streaming service’s libraries via Australian streaming services.
For instance, Hulu content in Australia can be found licensed across a mixture of Foxtel, Stan, and Netflix, and now Disney Plus Star, while HBO content has long called Foxtel home (and now, Binge too). Outside of this, individual movies, TV shows and documentaries can be rented or leased on Apple’s iTunes or the Google Play Store.
Still, whether splitting streaming services or individually purchasing content, the costs can stack up. The good news is there’s a less straightforward albeit greyer way to watch HBO Max content in Australia.
What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is the newest streaming service on the block, which blends the full suite of HBO original programming, like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, with WarnerMedia content, which includes original programming (called “Max Originals”) with big-ticket TV shows and movies like Friends, South Park, The Big Bang Theory, and the Studio Ghibli collection.
The HBO Max app isn’t available in Australia.
How to watch HBO Max with a VPN in Australia
Foxtel and Binge are the primary distributors for HBO Max content in Australia. If you had to pick between the two, it’s Binge with a bullet.
Over on Binge you’ll find a fair serving of HBO Max Originals. Raised by Wolves, The Flight Attendant and Doom Patrol are three examples of popular HBO Max TV shows you can find there, and it will be the premiere streaming destination for Zack Snyder’s Justice League when it releases on the 16th of March. It’s true that some of Binge’s best TV shows come courtesy of HBO Max but it doesn’t have everything.
Binge has a 2-week free trial and plans start at $10 per month.
How to watch HBO Max with a VPN in Australia
You’ll need a few things to watch Hulu and HBO Max in Australia.
- Use either a VPN or smart DNS service to make it look like you’re in the US
- Pay for the services without a US credit card
- Figure out which device you will stream with
VPN vs smart DNS
There are two options when it comes to accessing region-locked content in Australia: a VPN or a smart DNS service. As far as entertainment is concerned, both digital services have the potential to achieve the same goal of unlocking region-locked content. I’ve researched several, but Express VPN and Getflix are the best VPN and smart DNS service, respectively.
It might also be best to consider alternating between both as each has their uses; plus, if one goes down, the other is there as a backup.
Smart DNS services tend to be cheaper than VPNs, but generally aren’t as versatile: a smart DNS doesn’t encrypt data, nor does it change your IP address (the unique ID for your internet connection). While VPNs are more secure, they’re also slower than smart DNS services, which isn’t great when you’re primarily streaming video (particularly on slower or shared internet connections).
A reliable smart DNS or VPN service can also be used to access different Netflix and Amazon Prime Video libraries (which are region locked), or other non-Australian services like Showtime, BBC, and Hotstar.
How much does HBO Max cost?
HBO Max charges a flat US$14.99 monthly fee. That’s the same price as HBO Now which, if you’re still using, you may be eligible for a free upgrade to HBO Max. If you plan on subscribing using gift cards, it makes more sense then to buy the US$30 or $US60 to equally measure out your months – two and four, respectively – so you don’t have to do the maths on leftover gift card credit.
HBO Max payment options
With your VPN and/or smart DNS sorted, the next step is actually paying for HBO Max. As is typical with streaming services, your first 30 days are free but you’ll still need a payment method to get started.
If you’re lucky, a fudged US address during sign-up (when in doubt, use 90210 for Beverly Hills) will combo nicely with your credit card for payment purposes. Not all cards will be accepted, though, and it can be costly to go down the path of purchasing a dedicated virtual credit card just to pay foHBO Max, so it’s less convenient but relatively straightforward to opt for plan B.
Plan B is to buy HBO gift cards from a reputable online outlet, like MyGiftCardSupply. Unless you find an outlet that offers Australian dollars as payment, you’ll be spending American dollars. Hulu gift cards come in either US$25 or US$50 options, while HBO gift cards can be bought for US$25, US$30, US$60, and US$100.
How to redeem an HBO gift card
Strangely, at the launch of HBO Max, there’s no clear guidance on how to renew a gift card. The backdoor way (as recommended by HBO Max support) to do it is to enter the gift card code at www.hbonow.com/gift, then follow the login prompts to associate the amount with your account.
Which playback device is best for HBO Max and Hulu?
Now that you have signed up and paid for everything, the final decision is how are you going to access these services?
VPNs and smart DNS services will give you details to change in your internet settings; either your IP address or your DNS addresses.
You can adjust these settings on your router/modem-router, but bear in mind, if you change these settings in your router it will affect all other devices connected to your network. This may slow down your internet connection when doing other things online, like gaming or video-conferencing, or it may lock you out of Australian online services.
In many respects this is personal preference, but there’s extra effort required per device if you don’t have or don’t want to input VPN or smart DNS details directly into your router or modem-router. In terms of tests, the easiest devices are PCs, Android devices, and the Xbox One.
HBO Max on PC
For a PC, you can activate or deactivate your VPN of choice, select a US server and you’re ready to watch in a browser.
If you’re using a smart DNS service, right-click your network icon in the system tray and select ‘Open Network & Internet Settings’. Under ‘Change your network settings’ select ‘Change adapter options’.
There may be several icons here, but find the network connection you use for the internet, which is probably a WiFi connection. Right-click it, then select ‘Properties’.
Double click on ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’, then select the ‘Use the following DNS server addresses’ radial option at the bottom of the pop-up window.
This is where you enter in your smart DNS settings. Hit ‘OK’ on both pop-up windows to back out. Some smart DNS services like Getflix give you the option to test that your IP address is correctly associated with its smart DNS servers, which you should do to test your connection or troubleshoot problems. If everything is configured correctly, you’re ready to watch HBO Max in a browser.
You can also cast from browser to Chromecast (or compatible TV/device), which allows you to watch HBO Max on your TV. If Chromecast complains about casting the HBO Max browser tab, click on the cast icon in Google Chrome (or select ‘Cast’ from the three-dots setting menu), then select ‘Sources’ and ‘Cast desktop’ to get around it.
HBO Max on Android
The great thing about Android is the relatively straightforward way to install apps that aren’t available in your region. Use a search engine with the phrase ‘HBO Max APK’ to download the app for your compatible smartphone or tablet, which should automatically update once installed.
To install the APK file, find it in the Downloads folder, tap on it, then select ‘Yes’ when prompted to install it. As with the PC steps above, you’ll either need a VPN or smart DNS settings to watch Hulu content, though a VPN is recommended as tinkering with the DNS can be finicky.
HBO Max on Xbox
It is possible to use Hulu and HBO Max on other gaming consoles, but the Xbox (One, Series S and Series X) is by far the easiest when combined with a smart DNS service.
Power on your Xbox , then press the Xbox button and go to the settings cog. From here, select ‘System’, then ‘Language & location’ and switch the location to ‘United States’.
You’ll likely be prompted to restart your Xbox . Once restarted, go back into settings, ‘General’, then select ‘Network settings’.
Select ‘Advanced settings’ and then ‘DNS settings’ to manually update your Xbox One’s DNS settings to those provided by your smart DNS service.
Go back to the previous screen and use the ‘Test network connection’ option to make sure everything is running correctly. If it is, you’ll now be able to visit the Store and download apps like HBO Max, which should update as required.