HBO is primarily a home TV package offered over satellite and cable TV distribution systems. Those who have a home subscription to HBO can also access the service’s website, which includes a video-on-demand library that can be watched through a media player embedded in the4 site. HBO Go is free but can only be accessed to those who pay for HBO at home.
Anyone in the USA who wants to access HBO entertainment without a home subscription should access HBO Now. This has the same video library as HBO Go but is paid for direct and not through a home TV service.
HBO Max is a new service from HBO, which is being launched in May 2020.
HBO is owned by WarnerMedia, which in turn is owned by AT&T. These are two very powerful corporations that have the budgets and the back catalogs to make a real impact on the home entertainment market. The AT&T Entertainment Group is the largest media company in the world.
How is HBO different?
HBO’s three online streaming services aim to cover the entire home entertainment delivery market. HBO Go partners with the home TV service in the same way that channels such a TNT and ABC make their entertainment available online. HBO Now enables the company to reach out to people who don’t have any interest or permanence to commit to the infrastructure of cable and satellite TV systems.
HBO Max is intended to be a direct competitor to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, HBO is only interested in its home market of North America. The HBO brand is used in other countries. However, HBO does not manage these assets directly. Overseas services bearing the HBO name are either joint-ventures or licensing agreements with other media countries.
Check out our roundup of Best Streaming Services
Who is HBO best for?
HBO is an American brand that implies high status. Its broadcast TV channels are never included in basic cable or satellite services. It is a premium brand.
The extra cost of HBO means that it is not as widely viewed as mainstream services, such as ABC or NBC. However, the large income that HBO’s subscriptions bring in are plowed through to a large production budget. Thus, HBO Go, and HBO Now appeal to those who are prepared to pay for quality entertainment. HBO Max will have the same subscription price of HBO Now, which is costlier than rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
How to access HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max
The HBO Go website can be accessed from anywhere in the world over the internet. However, only those people located in the United States and who have a home subscription to HBO can set up an account to watch videos on the site.
HBO Now has exactly the same location restrictions on access to its library. Visitors to the website need to log in in order to access the video library. Only US residents can open an account with HBO Now and they can’t access the service if they travel outside of the USA.
HBO Max is intended to be a merger of HBO Go and HBO Now. HBO home package subscribers will get access to HBO Max for free, the same way they get HBO Go now. HBO Now looks like it is also going to be deprecated and replaced by HBO Max. The price for HBO Max is exactly the same as that for HBO Now and all HBO Now subscribers will get upgraded to HBO Max automatically.
It is probable that HBO Now will continue for a while because existing HBO Now subscribers that get the service through Apple TV or Roku boxes will not be upgraded automatically. It seems that HBO will let those HBO Now subscriptions run their course, expecting that those members will switch to HBO Max voluntarily rather than renewing with HBO Now. This is because HBO Max has a larger video library and is a superior service even though it has the same price as HBO Now.
Subscribers to AT&T cable TV services will also get free access to HBO Max as will subscribers to DirecTV, which is another AT&T Entertainment Group.
The HBO GO and HBO Max websites include a media player, so videos of the service can be watched through any standard browser. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge are all good choices for accessing HBO content at these sites.
HBO Go and HBO Now are available through apps for iPhones and iPads, Android mobile devices, Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Amazon TV Cube, Roku, Apple TV, and Android-based set-top boxes. The two HBO video streaming services can also be channeled through Xbox and PlayStation consoles and accessed directly on smart TVs. The media player on the HBO Go and HBO Now websites can be relayed to TVs through the Google Chromecast device.