HBO GO vs. HBO NOW vs. HBO Max: What’s the Difference?

HBO has three streaming services now? We're here to help you sort them out.
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If you’re a fan of Big Little Lies, The Wire, or His Dark Materials, you likely already have a subscription to HBO GO or HBO NOW. But now there’s a new HBO service launching on May 27: HBO Max.

So, what’s the difference between all of HBO’s streaming services that have similar, confusing names? I’m gonna tell ya.

First, we’re going to talk about the similarities and differences between HBO GO and HBO NOW, and then we’ll talk about what HBO Max will offer and what it could mean for the future of HBO.

Soooo, let’s get into the details.

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HBO GO and HBO NOW: Different services, similar price, same content

There are two similarities and two differences between HBO GO and HBO NOW.

Let’s start with the similarities because they’re pretty straightforward. The most important similarity between the two services is the fact that you get the same content. You get your Silicon Valley, Ballers, and Westworld with both services.

And the second similarity is you can stream all of your favorite shows on your smartphone, smart TV, tablet, and laptop.

The two differences between HBO GO and HBO NOW are how you get them and the monthly pricing.

You get HBO GO with a satellite or cable TV subscription or with Amazon Prime, whereas HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service, so you can just subscribe through the app.

You can get HBO GO with services like DIRECTV, Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, and Verizon Fios. And you can get HBO NOW through the Apple app store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and the Roku Channel Store.

Now for the pricing. HBO GO can range anywhere from $5 to $20 per month, depending on your satellite or cable TV provider and the current deals. But on average, it’s about $15, which is the same price as HBO NOW. No matter where you download the HBO NOW app, the monthly subscription price will be $15 per month.

And guess what other HBO service will be $15 per month? HBO Max.

HBO Max: What we know so far

HBO’s newest streaming platform, HBO Max, will be launching on May 27. It will be a combination of HBO, new original content, and licensed favorites that are separate from the HBO channel.

You might have heard of HBO Max when the Friends reunion special was announced because HBO Max won the rights to stream the highly anticipated episode. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends reunion production has been set back indefinitely. Even so, all of the Friends episodes will live on HBO Max.

HBO Max will also have The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Barry, Euphoria, Entourage, Game of Thrones, and so on. And it will also have new original content like Wahl Street (which is a docuseries of Mark Wahlberg’s life), Tokyo Vice (a series based on an American journalist’s firsthand experience of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police), The Flight Attendant (a thriller series starring Kaley Cuoco), and Love Life (a 10-episode rom-com starring Anna Kendrick).

HBO Max has some pretty good original content lined up, but guess what? Other than the new original content and licensed favorites, you’ll be getting the same content as you do with HBO GO and HBO NOW.

This is where it gets a little confusing.

If you currently have a subscription with HBO NOW, you’ll automatically get a subscription to HBO Max when it launches in May.

So whether you sign up for HBO Max or HBO NOW, you’ll still be paying the same $15 monthly price for both services together with exactly the same content.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Bear with me:

If you can get HBO Max with HBO NOW and vice versa, then shouldn’t they combine the HBO services together and call it one name?

Also, we do know that if you have an HBO subscription through an AT&T company, like DIRECTV or AT&T TV NOW, you’ll get HBO Max, as well, but what if you’re an HBO GO subscriber with another satellite or cable company? Will HBO Max users need to download a new app? Or will we have THREE HBO streaming apps to try to navigate?

Sigh. Luckily, AT&T has a great track record of keeping things simple and understandable.

The bottom line is I recommend getting either HBO NOW or HBO Max (since they’re basically the same) to get everything HBO has to offer for just one price.