HBO GO vs. HBO NOW: What's the Difference?

Satiate your need to watch HBO wherever you are

It's now possible to stream movies, series, and specials from the HBO content library on any app-enabled device—be it a phone, laptop, smart TV, streaming stick, or set-top box. All you need is one of HBO's two streaming services: HBO NOW or HBO GO.

HBO Go vs HBO Now
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Overall Findings

HBO NOW
  • Standalone streaming service that does not require existing cable or satellite package.

  • $14.99 per month.

  • Access to all HBO content.

  • Recalls watch history and allows you to continue play where you left off.

HBO GO
  • Requires an HBO subscription—either through a cable provider, satellite TV provider, or Amazon Prime.

  • Free with cable or satellite subscription.

  • Access to all HBO content.

  • Recalls watch history and allows you to continue play where you left off.

The only important difference between HBO NOW and HBO GO is that HBO GO is for people who have HBO subscriptions through their cable or satellite provider. (Subscriptions are also available through Amazon Prime.) HBO NOW, on the other hand, is available to anyone, much like Netflix or Hulu.

HBO NOW and HBO GO apps side by side.
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If you already have an HBO subscription, you can use HBO GO to watch HBO shows and movies on your phone, tablet, computer, or other app-enabled device. If you don't have a subscription, then there is no way to get HBO GO. That's why HBO NOW is ideal for cord cutters

One of the biggest problems for cord cutters is that there are so many services, including cable replacements like Sling TV and general streaming services like Netflix, that it's pretty easy to end up paying as much, or even more, for streaming services than you would for cable.

Since HBO NOW only provides access to HBO content, it falls into a category that's somewhat similar to streaming services like CBS All Access. These kinds of single-channel subscriptions can build up your entertainment bills. The appeal comes down to the individual's taste and preference. For a lot of cord-cutters, HBO is worth the $15 a month.

How to Get HBO NOW

Log in or create an account for HBO NOW and activate your free trial. Once you've created your account, you can watch HBO NOW on the web, or you can download the HBO NOW app to watch on a phone or tablet. You can also download the app for a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or other streaming device to watch on your TV.

A screenshot of HBO NOW.
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Once you have the app installed, here's how to get started with HBO NOW.

  1. Launch the HBO NOW app on your phone or streaming device, and select the menu icon, represented by three vertical lines.

    A screenshot of HBO NOW on a phone.
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  2. Select Start Your Free Trial.

    A screenshot showing how to sign up for HBO NOW.
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  3. Select Start Your Free Trial again.

    A screenshot of the HBO NOW sign up process.
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  4. Fill out the required fields, then select Create Account.

    A screenshot of the HBO NOW sign up process.
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  5. If prompted, select SUBSCRIBE.

    A screenshot of the HBO NOW sign up process.
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    If you don't cancel during the free trial period, HBO NOW will charge the billing method you choose during this step when the trial ends.

  6. Once you've completed the sign-up process, you can use the same account on the HBO NOW website or on any device with the HBO NOW app.

How to Get HBO GO

HBO GO is HBO's streaming service for existing subscribers. It's only available to people who subscribe to HBO through a cable or satellite package. If you have an HBO subscription, then HBO GO is free. If you don't have an HBO subscription, then HBO GO isn't an option.

In addition to the HBO GO app, you can also set up and use HBO GO with a web browser. Here's how to get started with HBO GO using a web browser:

  1. Navigate to hbogo.com, and select SIGN IN.

    A screenshot of HBO Go.
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    There is no option to sign up, because HBO GO is only available to current HBO subscribers. If you don't have an HBO subscription, you can contact your television provider to subscribe, or use HBO NOW instead.

  2. Select your television provider.

    A screenshot of the HBO GO sign in process.
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  3. If prompted, enter your login information for your television provider.

    A screenshot of the HBO GO sign in process.
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    This step may be automated if your television and cable provider are the same company.

  4. Return to hbogo.com, and verify that your television provider is now indicated by a logo in the top right corner of the screen. If it is, you're ready to start watching.

    A screenshot showing HBO GO ready to watch.
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  5. Repeat this process for each device on which you'd like to watch HBO GO.

How to Use HBO NOW and HBO GO

Once you have completed the sign up process, HBO NOW and HBO GO are essentially two different names for the same service. They use different websites and different apps, but the websites and apps look and function the same. If you're familiar with one, you'll be able to use the other without any problems.

HBO announced that it is stopping support for its HBO Now and HBO Go apps on 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs as of 5/1/2020.

Here's how to use HBO NOW or HBO GO to watch a TV show or movie:

  1. Navigate to hbogo.com or hbonow.com.

    A screenshot of HBO NOW.
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  2. Locate a show or movie you want to watch, and click or tap it.

    A screenshot of HBO NOW.
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  3. Click the play button.

    A screenshot of HBO NOW.
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    Clicking ADD will place the show or movie in you watchlist, which makes it easier to find in the future.

  4. If prompted, click to enable Adobe Flash, and then click Allow.

How to Use the HBO GO and HBO NOW Watchlist

HBO GO and HBO NOW don't include a lot of advanced features that other streaming services have, like live television or cloud digital video recorder (DVR), but there is a watchlist. This feature allows you to save movies and TV shows to a list, which you can use to quickly access your favorites without combing through the list of shows and movies every time.

Here's how to use the watchlist on HBO NOW and HBO GO.

  1. Navigate to hbogo.com or hbonow.com.

    A screenshot of HBO NOW.
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  2. Click WATCHLIST.

    A screenshot of HBO NOW.
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  3. Click the play button on any show or movie in the list to watch it.

    A screenshot of the HBO NOW watchlist.
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  4. Shows and movies will remain conveniently in your watchlist, which can help you remember where you left off. If you don't want a show or movie to be in your watchlist anymore, just select remove.

What's Included With HBO Now vs. HBO GO?

HBO NOW and HBO GO include the exact same content. That includes all of HBO's original shows, from Carnivale and Deadwood to Game of Thrones and Watchmen. It also includes all of the movies that HBO currently has the rights to broadcast and stream.

Neither HBO NOW or HBO GO include a live feed of the HBO channel. Most shows do become available to stream on the service around the time they are broadcast on the HBO channel, but there is no option to watch a live stream of the channel itself.

Can You Rent Movies From HBO NOW or HBO GO?

Unlike some streaming services, HBO NOW and HBO GO don't provide the option to rent movies. However, you do gain access to some newer movies that aren't available on other streaming sites. HBO GO and HBO NOW sometimes have movies for free that you would have to pay for elsewhere.

A screenshot of movies on HBO NOW.
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HBO adds new movies and rotates out older movies every month throughout the year. In addition to recently released movies that aren't available on other streaming services, HBO regularly includes older movies in its rotation. For more information about movie availability, check out HBO's list of new releases.