HBO fans have it pretty good these days. Subscribers can now watch their favorite shows and movies using a myriad of methods, whether seated in front of their TV or on thebus to work. This freedom comes from the company’s twin streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now, which allow fans to experience the wonders of Westworld and Westeros using their PlayStation 4,iPhone, or another HBO-compatible device.
Withtwo different ways to stream the network’s coveted library of original content, however, there are probably some wondering what sets the two services apart. Like all siblings, the two havestrong similarities, but there are some important differences that render each unique.
Let’s compare HBO Go against HBO Now. First, we’ll discuss which features both services have in common — which, it turns out, is actually quite a lot.
Every film, comedy special, and television series is availableregardless of whether you opt for HBO Go or HBO Now, and most content is available via both services at the same time as its original broadcast. The interfaces for both apps are also very similar— so much so, in fact, that the methods for navigating one will transfer to the other. They’re easy to figure out, withhelpful sections that showcase both “featured” content and new releases.
So, what do the two services cost? Well, this is where things get a little tricky.
HBO Now costs a flat rate of $15 per month. It’s a stand-alone package, which means it doesn’t require a cable subscription to use. HBO Go, on the other hand, is free with an HBO subscription — but that’s the only way to access it. So, in order to useHBO Go one must first have HBO; and in order to have HBO, one must be paying for cable or satellite — ostensibly. There are some providers that will offer HBO accessto internet-only customers, who can simply access the content online, as well as the ability to add an HBO subscription to services such as Amazon Prime Video,Sling TV,PlayStation Vue,and Hulu.
The vast majority ofusers access HBO Go via acable or satellite subscription. The monthly rate for HBO varies between providers and plans, and sometimes special offers will further reduce the price. Someproviders have even dropped HBO subscriptions to as little as $5 a month, but youcould be paying anywhere from nothing (via an introductory offer) to $20 on top ofwhat you already pay for cable.
HBO Go has been around since 2010 and has amassed a robustlist of compatible devices in the time since.WhenHBO Now was unveiled in 2015,the service was bound toa near-exclusive deal with Apple, which meant it was onlyavailable on devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV.
Since the deal’s expiration in mid-2015, however, the company has steadily added support for a multitude of devices to HBO Now. The main difference between each platform’s compatibility is not the device, but the generation or version thereof. Check the table below to find out which of your devices are compatible with eachstreaming service.
|HBO Go||HBO Now|
|Amazon Kindle Fire tablets||Yes||Yes (details here)|
|Amazon Fire TV||Amazon Fire TV 1st Gen+||Amazon Fire TV 1st Gen+|
|Amazon Fire TV Stick||Amazon Fire TV Stick 1st Gen+||Amazon Fire TV Stick 1st Gen+|
|Android phones and tablets||Android 4.1+||Android 4.1+|
|Android TV||Android 5.0+ (details here)||Android 5.0+ (details here)|
|Apple iPad||iPad 2nd Gen+, iPad Mini 1st Gen+||iPad 2nd Gen+, iPad Mini 1st Gen+|
|AppleiPhone||iPhone 4s and newer||iPhone 4s and newer|
|AppleiPod Touch||iPod Touch 5th Gen+||iPod Touch 5th Gen+|
|AppleTV||Yes (details here)||Yes (details here)|
|Chromecast||Yes (details here)||Yes (details here)|
|Google Chrome||Google Chrome version 62+||Google Chrome version 62+|
|Mozilla Firefox||Firefox version 63+||Firefox version 63+|
|Internet Explorer||Internet Explorer 10+||Internet Explorer 10+|
|Roku||Yes (details here)||Yes (details here)|
|Safari||Safari 11+||Safari 11+|
|Samsung Smart TVs||Yes (details here)||Yes (details here)|
|TiVo||Yes (details here)||No|
|Windows||Windows 10+||Windows 10+|
So now that we’ve covered which devices the two services support, it’s time to discuss their respective limitations.
Luckily, there aren’t many, and most deal with access across multiple devices. In this regard, HBO Go is the more complicated of the two. In order to use HBO Go on a compatible device, you must first authenticate the servicethrough a cable or satellite provider. It’s can be a bit tedious, but there’s no cap on the number of devices you can tie to your account.
HBO Now also allows limitless devices per account, but without the authentication requirement. Simply sign in with your HBO Nowcredentials, and you’re free to stream to your heart’s content — to a point.Both services will cap the number of videos being simultaneously accessed, which HBO claims is for security reasons. So,if you’ve got several devices trying to access different movies or TV episodes at the same time, you might run into the message “You’ve exceeded the number of simultaneous streams,” forcing you to sign out or restart your device.That said, if all you have is a few devices online at once, streaming should be essentially unrestricted.
In the battle between HBO Go and HBO Now, which comes out on top? The answer to that question depends almost entirely on you.Both services have small idiosyncrasies, but nothing that makes one the clear choice over the other — each one simply appealstoward which kind of user you are: Cord cutter, or cable subscriber.
HBO Go makes the most sense for people who are already subscribed to HBO because (surprise!) you technically already have it. For those who have cable without HBO,it’s a toss-up, as your cable provider may or may notoffer HBO for less than $15 a month.
HBO Now is targeted at those who opt to eschewtraditional cable subscriptions in favor ofHulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other a la carte streaming services, including Sling TVandPlayStation Vue. If you’ve cut the cord, HBO Now is not only your best option, it’s virtually your only option for watching HBO’s content — legally, anyway.
Since the list of HBO Now-supported devices has caught up with its older sibling, the differences between the two are purely circumstantial. In other words, the choice is yours.