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HBO GO vs. HBO NOW

What’s the difference between HBO GO and HBO NOW?

First take: What’s the difference between HBO GO and HBO NOW?

When it comes to the actual service, HBO GO and HBO NOW are basically the same. They’re both ways to stream your favorite current HBO® shows like Westworld or Big Little Lies and old favorites like Game of Thrones.

So what’s the difference? It’s all about how you get that access.

HBO GO is included as part of any HBO subscription through your TV provider. If you already pay for HBO, all you need is your TV company’s information and you’re ready to go. Meanwhile, HBO NOW is a stand-alone service that gets you access to HBO and only HBO. You simply create an account online, pay the $14.99 monthly fee, and you can start streaming immediately.

The real question is, which is right for you? Well, we’ve tested out both services (because it was, like, such a burden) and read all the fine print, so we have the information you need to make the right decision. Keep reading to see which streaming service will fit your life best.

Is HBO GO or HBO NOW better?

We think this question is a bit more complicated than it should be. Don’t worry, though, because we’ve figured it out for you.

Pricing

Let’s start with the easy one: HBO NOW. This stand-alone service costs a flat rate of $14.99 a month. There’s no contract and no hassle. Cancel anytime. Pretty simple—and we like it.

HBO GO’s price, on the other hand, varies depending on your TV provider. Actually, to be honest, HBO GO is technically free with a subscription to HBO, but the price of HBO depends on your cable or satellite provider, so we think it’s worth taking a look at.

If you’re thinking, “Wait, I think I already have HBO!” then you also already have HBO GO. Simply download the HBO GO app, sign in using your TV provider information, and you’ll already have access to all your favorite shows. Game of Thrones binge party, anyone?

For those of us without HBO—yet!—most TV plans will add HBO for somewhere around $10 to $20 a month. There’s even a few that offer it for free (we’re looking at you, AT&T TV NOW), so we think it’s worth the hassle of looking into.

If you’re determined to live hassle-free, jump to the HBO deals and promotions section and see what we’ve found for you already.

Content

When push comes to shove, HBO GO and HBO NOW both get you all the same great movies, documentaries, TV series, and comedy specials that HBO is known for. Plus, since they’re streaming services, you get all of this from almost any device you want, wherever you want it.

User experience

The interface for both streaming services is easy to use, simple to follow, and once again . . . basically the same (are we sounding like a broken record yet?). In fact, we couldn’t really tell you which service we were using once we logged in.

The home screen offers a good (but not overwhelming) selection of featured content, so you can actually find new shows you want to watch. Plus, you can use the My List feature to see the latest content from your favorites quickly, or you can search for new titles with just a couple clicks or a tap. No need to hunt for them. Oh, and we stand by the look of it all too. On point.

Since HBO GO and HBO NOW are both streaming services, you do need to have a decent internet or data connection for both. To test it out, we took Game of Thrones to the streets and didn’t run into any buffering or glitches. Basically, with any solid internet or data connection, you’re good to stream at home or on the go with resolution up to 1080p.

HBO currently does not support HDR or 4K formats, but rumor has it that’s in the works.

HBO deals and promotions

Free trials

HBO NOW offers the only truly free way to try out streaming HBO through its 7-day free trial. Just make sure to set an alarm on your phone to remind you of the end date because it will automatically subscribe you at the end of the trial.

DIRECTV does offer HBO—and thus HBO GO—for free for 3 months if you sign up for its SELECT™ package or higher. The SELECT™ package runs around $59.99 a month, and after the 3-month trial, an HBO subscription costs $17.99 a month. It’s not exactly free, but you’re still getting a decent deal.

If you’re dead set on not spending a single penny, you might want to check out HBO’s website. In hopes of getting you hooked on a new show, HBO gives you the chance to stream the first episode of many popular series for free. We know we couldn’t resist and would just end up signing up anyway, but if you don’t mind not knowing how things end, it is a way you could technically get HBO episodes for free.

Wondering what all the hoopla is with HBO and an AT&T unlimited plan?

If you have an AT&T unlimited wireless plan, we have good news for you: HBO is free!

If you have DIRECTV, AT&T TV NOW, or AT&T U-verse in addition to your wireless plan, you can go here to redeem those rewards using your TV service login. If you just have the unlimited wireless plan, you need to create an account at atttvnow.com (don’t worry, it’s free), then verify your mobile number. Once you’re verified, you can start streaming right away on your mobile device. Score!

Combining with other services

If you hate the idea of having to log in to a new service to get HBO, or if you just want to keep all your TV in one place, getting HBO access through your TV provider might be the right pick for you. And you can do that through satellite, cable, or even cord-cutting.

To help navigate how adding HBO will actually hit your wallet (or if you’re looking to make a switch and want to make sure you can afford to keep your HBO content), take a look at the table below.

ServiceCostChannelsCost of HBO addition
DIRECTV SELECT™$59.99/mo.*155+STARZ, EPIX, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and HBO free for first 3 mos, $59.98/mo. thereafter. HBO upgrade alone $17.99/mo.
Xfinity TV X1 internet Plus Instant TV + speed increase$49.99/mo.**10+$15/mo.
AT&T TV Now Plus$65/mo. 45+$14.99/mo.
Hulu + Live TV$44.99/mo.60+$14.99/mo.
Amazon Prime Video$12.99/mo. 45+$14.99/mo.

*For 12 months with 24 month contract. Price increases after the first year.
**With 1 year agreement.
***See below.

Why all the asterisks on DIRECTV?

Ok, we pulled out our magnifying glass and read all the fine print until our eyes hurt to figure out all the details you need to know about DIRECTV’s free three-month deal.

Bottom line, you do get an awesome premium package for three months with access to not only HBO but also to STARZ, EPIX, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX! That sounds like an amazing three months. However, after that period is over, the premium channel package will automatically renew at an additional $59.98 a month on top of your regular DIRECTV monthly cost.

Yeah, you read that right—you could almost double the cost of your TV subscription if you aren’t careful. If you want that much TV, go for it. But, if you’re really just in the market for HBO, we suggest canceling the premium package subscription right before your three months are up and switching to just HBO for $17.99 a month.

HBO original shows and movies

HBO has been in the business of original movies and shows long before Netflix or Hulu were even a thing, and the sheer number of shows and movies HBO has available proves it. We know you’ve heard of Game of Thrones, but there’s a whole lot more on the table with an HBO subscription.

There are popular shows like Reese Whitherspoon’s Big Little Lies and binge-worthy documentaries like Leaving Neverland, so your new obsession is just waiting to be found. Look below to see if you can spot it already.

Original showsOriginal movies
Westworld
Big Little Lies
Succession
The Sopranos
Sex and the City
Leaving Neverland
The Inventor: Out for Blood
Beware Slenderman
Mommy Dead and Dearest
Sex and the City
61
The Jack Bull
See all of HBO’s original showsSee all of HBO’s original movies

Movies on HBO

HBO has plenty of movies on demand for you to enjoy. Currently on the docket are hits like Aquaman, Fantastic Beasts, Deadpool, and Boy Erased. Be warned that the movies do rotate, so don’t buy the service for a specific movie because those can come and go monthly.

How to get HBO

You can get HBO in any one of three ways: through your cable subscription, HBO NOW, or through a third-party TV streaming service.

Cable subscription

If you buy HBO through your cable or satellite provider, then you’ll find HBO added to your TV’s channel lineup, and you’ll get access to HBO GO. Simply head to the HBO GO website or download the HBO GO app and log in with your TV provider.

HBO NOW

For HBO NOW, you simply sign up with an email address. You can go to the HBO NOW website and sign up right now. It’s that easy.

TV streaming services

If you want to watch HBO through a third party like Amazon Prime or Hulu, you’ll need to sign up for HBO through its website. From then on, HBO will be an option on that viewing platform.

There’s one third party we think is worth mentioning specifically: AT&T NOW. AT&T NOW is a streaming service that actually includes HBO in its normal channel lineup with its PLUS and MAX packages. For as little as $65 a month, you get access to 50 channels and HBO. What a steal!

Compatible devices

Both HBO GO and HBO NOW are compatible on most common devices, although they no longer work on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 as of January 2019. Check the table below to make sure your devices are compatible.

Streaming device*HBO GoHBO Now
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire tablet
Android mobile devices
Android TV
Apple TV
Chromecast
iOS mobile devices
iPod Touch
Mac computers
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku devices
Samsung Smart TVs (select models)
Windows computers
Windows 10 phones
Xbox 360
Xbox One

*Some streaming devices’ compatibility depends on TV provider

Final take: Is HBO GO or HBO NOW worth it?

Most definitely. For us, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Tons of good TV whenever and wherever you want it? Sign us up.

With either service, you can watch what’s premiering on HBO itself or binge-watch your way through the on-demand content, making both a win-win to us. So whichever way you’ve decided to get your HBO obsession covered, go sign up and start streaming today.

HBO FAQ

What’s the difference between HBO GO and HBO NOW?

At the end of the day, it’s the same content and just two different ways to get it. HBO NOW is a stand-alone service that lets you stream HBO for $14.99 a month. HBO GO comes with an HBO subscription through a TV provider. It’s normally around $10 to $20 a month more that your TV subscription and gets you access to anything playing on HBO and its on-demand content, just like HBO NOW.

How can I get HBO for free?

You can try HBO NOW free for a week with its 7-day free trial. Just make sure you remember to set a reminder to cancel. Otherwise it’ll automatically renew and charge you $14.99 a month.

How much does it cost to add HBO to Hulu?

It costs $14.99 a month to add HBO to Hulu. Although it’s not called HBO NOW, it’s basically the same thing. In fact, you can even log on to HBO NOW with your Hulu + Live TV information (if you pay for HBO through Hulu). You do have to create your own HBO NOW login to watch on the HBO NOW app. Or you can just watch from the Hulu app.

Can you watch HBO live with HBO NOW?

Any new movies or shows appear on HBO NOW as they show on the channel. In fact, almost everything shows up on the app as it appears on HBO with one exception: HBO’s reality series. Those are added to HBO NOW within 24 hours. Below are the estimates for those shows from HBO.

  • 24/7: 5:00 p.m. (EST), next day
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: 2:00 a.m. (EST), Mondays
  • Real Time with Bill Maher: 7:00 a.m. (EST), Saturdays
  • Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: 5:00 p.m. (EST), Wednesdays

Will Game of Thrones be on HBO NOW?

Yes, every episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones is available to stream on HBO NOW. If for some reason you don’t see every episode, try downloading the app again to see if there’s an update that will load the missing content.

Is HBO on Hulu the same as HBO NOW?

Technically, the HBO st reaming service you sign up for through Hulu is just called HBO, but you can actually use this subscription to sign in through HBO NOW. You simply go to HBO NOW and click on “Sign In with Another Account” and pick Hulu. Then you log in with your Hulu account, and it will ask you to create a new HBO NOW–only password. If that all sounds a little complicated, remember you can just stream HBO directly from Hulu instead.

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