If you’ve been searching for a way to join the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon, you might be a bit confused about your HBO access options. The choice of HBO Now vs. HBO Go probably felt like seeing double, and with the announcement of HBO Max, even more confusion looms on the horizon. To sum it up — HBO Now and HBO Go have the same content catalog, but the way you purchase access is different.
We’re going to break down exactly how these services are different and which one will be best for you.
Same Content, Different Subscription Methods
HBO Go and HBO Now offer identical content collections. Both grant access to HBO’s suite of TV shows, movies, documentaries, and specials. They also both support simultaneous streaming.
The only difference is simply how you’ve subscribed. HBO Go is the on-the-go way to view HBO content when you’ve subscribed to the premium channel via a cable subscription. If you’re paying $10 extra for HBO with your Comcast cable service, you can use HBO Go to watch content when not at home. The actual price of HBO through your TV provider could vary depending on promotions and the provider — anywhere from $10 to $18 per month.
HBO Now is the app you’d use if you purchased standalone monthly access to HBO (separate from a cable subscription). It’s a la carte in the same way other streaming services are. If you’re a cord-cutter who wants to catch the last season of “Silicon Valley,” you can purchase access to HBO through the site itself. HBO Now costs $15 per month.
What about HBO Max?
WarnerMedia recently announced an upcoming streaming service called HBO Max, expected in the spring of 2020. The new service will offer the same classic HBO content that is on HBO Now and HBO Go, but with a mass of additional WarnerMedia programming and original content called Max Originals. Most notably, this means exclusive streaming rights for the entire run of “Friends” series.
WarnerMedia brands you may recognize include Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, The CW, Looney Tunes, Cartoon Network, Crunchyroll, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV, and Turner Classic Movies. HBO Max will have exclusive streaming of “The Fresh Pince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars.”
There’s already been a lineup of Max Originals teased — including “Love Life” starring Anna Kendrick, an animated adaptation of “Gremlins,” and a thriller called “The Flight Attendant” starring Kaley Cuoco. And Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company will bring at least two exclusive movies to the service.
For now, HBO Go and HBO Now will be left entirely independent of HBO Max, which will be treated as a new and distinct offering.
Which Should You Choose?
If you have a traditional TV subscription already, it’s best to purchase HBO as a premium channel through that provider (and then use HBO Go to watch on other devices). That way, you can watch HBO channels and on-demand catalog on your TV along with your other channels.
For those who don’t have traditional cable, HBO Now is the best way to explore our future in “Westworld” and catch up with the women of Monterey Bay in “Big Little Lies.”
You’ll still have plenty of time to decide on whether HBO Max will win a place in your monthly subscription allotment. The service doesn’t launch until spring of 2020.