If you’re a fan of— or , Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, True Detective, Silicon Valley, The Sopranos, The Wire or Veep — you’ve previously had two major ways to (legally) stream episodes. Unfortunately, they have confusingly similar names: and . Now a new HBO app is available — — but the other two aren’t going away for millions of subscribers. Meanwhile millions more saw their HBO Now apps disappear to be replaced by HBO Max last week. With three different HBO apps for different users and devices, the situation is even than before.
First off, HBO Max is a separate service from the HBO you know already, although it costs the same at $14.99 per month. Max is HBO parent company AT&T’s answer to Netflix, and other combatants in the current streaming wars. AT&T has billed HBO Max as a sort of supercharged version of HBO, giving you everything that service offers as well as lots of other shows and movies you can’t watch on HBO: Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Rick and Morty, originals like the Anna Kendrick-starring Love Life and tons of Warner Bros. movies as well as new, exclusive films, including coming in 2021.
So how else is it different from HBO Now and HBO Go, exactly?
The short version
- If you pay for HBO already via your cable, satellite or subscription, you can use the HBO Go app to stream those shows on other devices like your phone, tablet or another TV.
- If you don’t pay for HBO already through an existing TV provider, you can use the HBO Now app for streaming.
- If you want to stream all of HBO plus all the new Max goodness, you need the HBO Max app when it comes out on May 27.
The good news is that, for millions of current HBO subscribers, the upgrade to Max happened automatically. HBO Now users who pay via HBO Now, Google or Apple get an app update that transforms the HBO Now app into the HBO Max app. HBO Go users from a number of TV providers (including Verizon, Comcast, Altice, Charter, YouTube TV and AT&T’s own TV services) will be able to use the same username and password to log in to the new HBO Max app.
If you’re one of those millions of subscribers, you should be able to access Max without having to change anything with your HBO subscription.
Unfortunately millions more HBO subscribers won’t qualify for the upgrade. To see if your pay TV provider is upgrading you to HBO Max, or if you qualify for the automatic upgrade from HBO Now to HBO Max, check out.
If you don’t qualify for the upgrade and still want Max, our advice is to simply cancel your HBO subscription from wherever you’re getting it now and subscribe to HBO Max directly.
Looking for more details? Here’s the longer answer.
HBO Go: ‘Free’ with HBO from a provider
Launched in 2010, HBO Go is a separate free app that’s designed for cable, satellite and live TV streaming service subscribers who already get HBO’s channel(s) as part a TV subscription.
To use it you’ll need to sign in to the app (or “authenticate”) using the user name and password provided by your cable, satellite or live TV service. Access to the app is tied into your main TV subscription, so if your TV subscription doesn’t include HBO, you can’t use HBO Go.
HBO Now: $15 per month
Launched in 2015 as a standalone subscription independent of your cable or live TV streaming service, HBO Now costs $14.99 per month, the same price as HBO Max. To watch, you can sign in to the HBO Now app or go to hbonow.com.
A subscription to HBO Now works just like Netflix, Hulu or any other pay TV streaming service. You’ll use a dedicated username and password, there’s a free trial and you can cancel anytime (no contract). For most, HBO Now has become HBO Max, with the big exceptions .
HBO Max: $15 per month
Launching on May 27, HBO Max is the successor to HBO Now. Signing up is the same as it would be for HBO Now, with Max offering all the same content as HBO Now plus that aforementioned catalog of hit shows, movies and originals that are exclusive to this new platform.
A subscription to HBO Max works just like any other pay TV streaming service, with a dedicated log-in and password. You also can cancel anytime as there is no contract.
Which devices have apps for HBO Max, HBO Now and HBO Go?
Even a week after launch the Max app is, two of the largest streaming TV platforms. Both have issued statements indicating that negotiations are ongoing.
Device support for HBO apps
|HBO Now||HBO Go||HBO Max|
|Apple iOS iPhone and iPad||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Android phones and tablets||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Amazon Fire TV||Yes||Yes||No|
|Samsung smart TV||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Correction, 6:00 a.m. ET: Originally the chart above indicated that LG smart TVs have apps for HBO Go and HBO Now. That is not the case.