For some odd reason, HBO thinks it needs to offer three TV streaming services. They're called HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max, and they're all distinct and yet similar at the same time. To help you figure out which is best for you, we're pitting them against each other in this quick guide that covers how they differ in terms of pricing, supported devices, and content available to watch.
HBO Go launched in 2010. It's a free TV streaming service available to people who have purchased HBO as a premium channel through a cable or satellite provider. HBO Go offers original content from the HBO channel, including series, documentaries, and specials, plus a selection of movies. It supports simultaneous streaming and is only available in the US.
Which movies and shows are on HBO Go?
You can use HBO Go to watch all of HBO's library, including hit series like Game of Thrones, Sex in the City, Chernobyl, Westworld, etc.
There's also a rotating collection of acquired series and movies. We've used it to watch John Wick 3, Detective Pikachu, Us, and the Die Hard films. Most new movies and shows are available on HBO Go at the same time they premiere on TV. But ongoing shows part of an "HBO reality series" - such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - are not available when they premiere. Instead, they're added within 24 hours.
HBO Go does not offer live TV content or real-time broadcasts of events.
How much does HBO Go cost?
HBO Go is included with your HBO channel subscription, which can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 per month, depending on your provider.
Which devices support HBO Go?
HBO Now works on the following devices: iPhone (5S and later), iPad (fifth-generation and later), Apple TV (second-generation and later), Amazon Fire tablets (fourth-generation or later), Fire TV devices, Android phones and tablets (running version 5 and later), Android TV devices (like the Nvidia Shield), Chromecast, smart TVs from Sharp, Samsung, and Sony Bravia, Roku (second-generation and later), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, TiVo, and Macs and Windows 10 PCs running the Chrome, Firefox, Edge, IE 11, and Safari web browsers.
How to sign up for HBO Go
First, purchase an HBO subscription through your TV provider. If you don't have a subscription, go to HBO.com/ways-to-get. Or, to see if your TV provider supports HBO Go, go to play.HBOGO.com/login and check if your TV provider is listed. Once you're all set, sign in to HBOGO.com or the HBO Go app. You will need to choose your TV provider and enter your TV provider account credentials.
HBO Now launched in 2015. It is what's called a "standalone" TV streaming service - primarily because it does not require an HBO channel subscription through your cable or satellite provider. Like HBO Go, it offers original content from the HBO channel alongside a selection of movies. It also supports simultaneous streaming and is only available in the US.
Which movies and shows are on HBO Now?
HBO Now offers the exact same content as HBO Go, but without a cable subscription required. You get series like Big Little Lies, True Detective, and The Wire, plus docuseries like McMillions, and acquired movies and shows such as The Lego Movie and Apocalypse Now. Most of this stuff is available at the same time it premieres on TV - again, with the exception of "HBO reality series". There's also no live TV option.
How much does HBO Now cost?
HBO Now costs $14.99 a month and can easily be canceled at any time.
Which devices support HBO Now?
HBO Now works on the following devices: iPhone (5S and later), iPad (fifth-generation and later), Apple TV (second-generation and later), Amazon Fire tablets (fourth-generation or later), Fire TV devices, Android phones and tablets (running version 5 and later), Android TV devices (like the Nvidia Shield), Chromecast, smart TVs from Sharp, Samsung, and Sony Bravia, Roku (second-generation and later), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Macs and Windows 10 PCs running the Chrome, Firefox, Edge, IE 11, and Safari web browsers.
How to sign up for HBO Now
This is simple: Go to HBONow.com/order and click Start Your Free Trial. You can also do this from the HBO Now app or through a digital subscription provider such as Amazon's Prime Video Channels or Hulu. You will need to create an account and supply a payment method. For more information about how to get HBO Now, including how to sign in to your device, check this support page.
HBO Max has been called a "platform" by Warner Media, which owns HBO. But, like HBO Now, it is a "standalone" TV streaming service in the US that doesn't require cable or satellite. It'll feature 10,000 hours of premium shows and movies, including content from the HBO channel, as well as originals called Max Originals and programming from WarnerMedia's other brands (like the DC Universe and Cartoon Network).
Which movies and shows are on HBO Max?
HBO Max will include all of HBO, original programming (Max Originals), a collection of acquired series and movies, and content from WarnerMedia's brands and libraries including Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, DC, CNN, Turner, Looney Tunes, and more. A few of the big titles include Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Pretty Little Liars, and The Fresh Prince.
How much does HBO Max cost?
HBO Max will cost $14.99 a month when it launches in May. Current HBO Now subscribers will get access to HBO Max for free.
Which devices support HBO Max?
WarnerMedia has said HBO Max will be available "on many popular devices", including phones, tablets, Mac and PC browsers, media players, and game consoles. Check here to see the full compatibility list once HBO Max launches.
How to sign up for HBO Max
HBO Max will be available through HBOMax.com. HBO Now subscribers billed directly through HBO or Apple and Google will get instant access to HBO Max when it launches at no extra cost. To find out where your HBO Now subscription is billed through, check this support page.
HBO subscribers who get HBO through AT&T TV, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, or Spectrum will get access to HBO Max for free.
WarnerMedia said you will also be able to sign up through AT&T, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Spectrum, YouTube TV, Apple, and Google Play.
Which is best for you?
Here's your decision tree: Do you subscribe to HBO through a TV provider? Then use HBO Go. Are you a cord-cutter? Sign up for HBO Max when it launches in May; it has all of HBO - like HBO Go and HBO Now both offer - but it doesn't require a cable or satellite subscription and has additional content from WarnerMedia's wide brand portfolio. It's hands-down the best deal if you don't already have the HBO channel.
If you want to stream HBO content this very instant, but don't want to wait for HBO Max or buy the HBO channel to use HBO Go, then get HBO Now for the time being. When HBO Max does become available, you'll have instant access anyway and it won't cost you a cent more.