You have plenty of choices when it comes to streaming services, including quite a few free streaming options. But the good stuff is worth paying for, and HBO’s catalog of original shows and movies is available via two services: HBO Now and HBO Go. But if you’re new to HBO, or have so far been getting your Game of Thrones fix thanks to a friend’s password, you’re probably wondering which one is right for you. Sound familiar? Here’s what you need to know about how HBO Go and HBO Now compare.
How HBO Go and HBO Now are similar
Let’s get the biggest question out of the way first: There’s no difference between the content you get to stream with HBO Go and the content you get to stream with HBO Now. The two services offer exactly the same catalog, and you’ll be able to watch Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Girls, and all of your other favorites on either service. Additionally, both services get access to new content at the same time. As the HBO help page explains, “HBO NOW and HBO GO have the same great content; unlimited access to all of HBO – every episode, every season – plus hit movies, sports, documentaries, and comedy specials.”
You can check out what’s available on either service online, and browse everything from TV series to movies, comedy to sports, documentaries to late-night TV. The interfaces for the HBO Go and HBO Now apps are very similar, and if you’re familiar with navigating one, you’ll have no trouble adapting to the other. Additionally, both HBO Now and HBO Go support simultaneous streaming, which means that you and other members of your household will be able to sign in on multiple devices and watch different content simultaneously.
How HBO Go and HBO Now are different
The biggest difference between HBO Go and HBO Now is how you buy them. HBO Now is a standalone service that costs $14.99 per month, and you don’t have to subscribe to HBO as part of a cable package to use it. Conversely, HBO Go comes bundled with a traditional HBO subscription — the kind that you usually have to be paying for cable or satellite to purchase. There are a few internet providers who will offer HBO access to internet-only customers, but the vast majority require users to have a cable subscription to buy HBO. What you’ll pay for HBO, of course, varies between providers and plans, but you can expect to pay up to $20 per month on top of the regular cost of your cable plan.
Another difference between HBO Go and HBO Now is the list of devices on which each is supported. HBO Go currently works with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV, the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Amazon Fire tablets, Android phones and tablets, Chomecast, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Roku, Samsung smart TVs, TiVo, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
HBO Now, on the other hand, currently works with Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Android phones and tablets, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS devices, Roku, Samsung smart TVs, and Xbox One and Xbox 360. If you’re planning on using the service on a specific device, make sure that the service is supported.
While both services enable you to access HBO content across an assortment of devices, the process of setting up those devices differs slightly. To use HBO Go on a device, you need to authenticate the service through your cable or satellite provider. HBO Now simply requires you to sign in with your account credentials. As mentioned above, both services enable multiple users to stream different content simultaneously. However, HBO does note that the number of simultaneous streams is limited “for security reasons.” Which means that if you have a big family or lots of housemates, you may run into trouble if everyone is trying to access different movies or TV shows simultaneously.
Ultimately, choosing between HBO Go and HBO Now just requires some thinking about which service is a better fit for you. HBO Go is the logical choice if you aren’t planning on parting ways with your cable provider. In fact, if you already pay your cable provider for HBO, you’re already paying for access to HBO Go. If you have cable but don’t yet have HBO, HBO Go is probably the more sensible choice given the slightly wider selection of devices on which it’s supported.
If, on the other hand, you’re ditching your cable subscription, or planning to in the near future, then HBO Now is likely a better choice. It’s a great complement to services like Netflix and Hulu. And unless you’re using one of the few internet providers that sells HBO access to internet-only subscribers, then HBO Now is actually your only choice for watching all of HBO’s content.