What happens when an industry emperor forays into a domain where it once fell short; a domain in which hawk-eyed rivals identified opportunities and have long-established themselves? Well, the emperor gets the cake and eats it too. You’ve perhaps guessed it already! I am referring to one of the topmost TV networks in the world, Home Box Office, a.k.a. HBO.
Remember those days when we’d have to either sneakily catch up on our favorite show or sit awkwardly watching steamy scenes along with our folks as per a strict programming schedule? Well, not anymore. With the introduction of HBO GO and HBO Now, HBO became the first big TV network to espouse “online streaming”, eliminating the long-standing pests of traditional TV viewing.
An Overview of HBO GO and HBO Now
Launched way back in 2010, HBO GO is basically a “TV Everywhere” service that enables cable/satellite TV subscribers to stream on-demand videos including all HBO originals, popular movies, and specials through their website or app, across many devices. HBO GO is considered to be a scion to HBO on Broadband.
HBO Now, on the other hand, is an over-the-top subscription-based streaming service that was introduced in the market in 2014. It mainly targets cord-cutters while offering the same content as on HBO GO and accessible across the same range of platforms. HBO Now is a direct competitor to other subscription video-on-demand services such as Hulu and Netflix; except that you wouldn’t find TV series produced by other channels.
The only major difference between HBO GO and HBO Now is that HBO GO requires users to have a pre-existing cable or satellite TV subscription with HBO added in the package. If they meet this requirement, they can simply download the HBO GO app and watch all the content for free (well, not really). Whereas HBO Now is a standalone service that works on a monthly subscription model, similar to Netflix. You can get access to HBO shows by paying a certain amount per month, without being subscribed to cable/satellite TV.
Type of Content
The biggest similarity between HBO GO and HBO Now is the content. Both the services feature all HBO-produced shows, blockbuster movies (English), intriguing documentaries, significant sports events, and comedy specials. HBO has distribution rights from networks such as the 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures so you know how awesome the quality of content would be.
Some of the most popular HBO shows available on these services are Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, The Wire, Silicon Valley, Oz, Westworld, The Leftovers, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and Boardwalk Empire. You can also enjoy highly-rated films like Sully, Straight Outta Compton, The Blair Witch Project, Slumdog Millionaire, The Sixth Sense, American Psycho, and Her. Users can also find old comedy classics (stand-up specials) such as Chris Rock, Bigger & Blacker, Dave Chappelle, Killin’ Them Softly, and Jerrod Carmichael, Love at the Store.
An important thing to note is that the movies are constantly added and removed from the platform but the HBO originals will be available permanently. Also, HBO GO does not have some of the old HBO series but otherwise, the content is almost the same.
Supported Devices and Availability
Both, HBO GO and HBO Now are supported on an extensive range of devices and platforms including MAC OS and Windows operated computers and laptops, iOS devices, Android devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Samsung Smart TV, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
Note that both the services allow subscribers to stream media on multiple screens at a time so your family members or friends wouldn’t need to spend extra for a separate account.
As of now, these services are only accessible in the United States and a few U.S. territories. But similar to some other established services, we hope that HBO also expands its streaming services into other regions, in the near future.
Interface and Design
HBO decided to go with an all-black theme for their website as well as application. We found that the interface and design were almost identical on both HBO GO and HBO Now. The interface is fairly uniform across devices. As per our personal experience with the app (both the services), it was extremely easy to figure out how the platform worked with hardly any glitches.
The navigation bars at the top include movies, series, and more, so users can filter content as per the “type”. You’ll also find that the titles are carefully curated under several categories and genres such as “Love Blooms”, “New on HBO”, “Collections”, “Documentaries”, “For Kids”, etc. Once you click on a title, it’ll pull up the player window with a brief background about the show/movie.
Overall, they’ve done well with the execution. We just faced one issue and that is slow load-time. If you get an average speed from your internet provider, you might find that the selected content takes a while to load. Also, navigating between pages seemed to lag a tad bit.
How To Opt For These Services?
You can subscribe to HBO Now by simply logging onto their website – https://play.hbonow.com/. It costs only $14.99 a month with a free trial period of one month. Once subscribed, you could download the app on any of the devices mentioned above, enter your credentials and get started.
HBO GO is offered for free, so long as you’re subscribed to a cable or satellite TV package with HBO. As of now, this option is available with select cable TV providers including AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, DISH Network, Verizon FiOS, Suddenlink Communications, and Charter Communications.
It all boils down to whether you’re a cable subscriber or a cord-cutter. If you prefer Live TV (including other networks) and also the option of watching HBO from anywhere, at any time, install HBO GO (no extra fee after all). However, if you’re a fan of HBO shows and price is a concern, we’d suggest that you subscribe to HBO Now. There also services such as SlingTV and DirecTV which offer Live TV from other channels as well as HBO (as an add-on) so if you wish to enjoy both Live TV and on-demand TV while having all the content under one roof, you could consider those.