Jan 31, 2020

HBO GO and HBO NOW bring viewers the very best of the network’s premium content — both services provide access to a rich range of content, including HBO’s back catalog of award-winning original programming. Subscribers get a wide choice of enthralling TV dramas, hit Hollywood movies, fascinating documentaries, amusing comedy shows and engaging children’s entertainment.

The services are available across most popular streaming devices and smart TVs. However, there are a few key differences that’ll affect the decision of which one you choose. HBO GO comes included with HBO cable and satellite TV subscriptions. HBO cable subscribers don’t have to pay extra for HBO GO. HBO NOW, on the other hand, is a standalone service that provides access to HBO content for viewers who don’t have cable.

Compare HBO GO vs. HBO NOW plans

HBO GO is a free streaming service included in HBO cable subscriptions and TV packages. It essentially allows HBO cable subscribers to stream the HBO content they’re already paying for, facilitating on-the-go viewing. 

HBO NOW, on the other hand, is essentially an à la carte streaming service. It’s intended for individuals who don’t have cable but would like access to HBO content. Viewers can purchase HBO NOW online from HBO or through another compatible service, such as Amazon Prime Video. It’ll set you back $15/mo.

Monthly priceCost of HBO cable subscription$15/mo.
Free trialN/ASeven days
Simultaneous streamsThreeThree
Offline watching availableYesNo

HBO GO vs. HBO NOW overview


HBO GO and HBO NOW both offer subscribers the same viewing options, so this isn’t the best metric to use when deciding between the two services. Both provide access to hundreds of TV shows, movies and documentaries. 

Available TV content includes all the best programming from across the network’s back catalog, such as the recently concluded fantasy drama Game of Thrones, gangster drama series The Sopranos and the gritty classic The Wire.

Popular movies available on both platforms include Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star Is Born, Danny Boyle’s biopic Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg’s adaption of War of the Worlds. The list also includes a few timeless classics like Amelie, Love Actually and The Lost Boys.

Both services have a variety of documentaries available, including biopics on musicians David Bowie and Elvis Presley and the intriguing Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck movie. Sports documentaries include films on baseball legend Bobby Thomson, soccer star Diego Maradona and a two-part series What’s My Name that focuses on Muhammad Ali.


The price of HBO GO is included in the cost of a regular HBO cable subscription. HBO subscribers don’t pay extra for access to streaming content on HBO GO. Some cable and satellite TV providers include HBO in their basic packages. Others offer the channel as an add-on that usually costs between $5 to $20/mo. (prices vary by provider). In these cases, to get an accurate idea of the true cost of HBO GO, add the amount spent on basic cable to the cost of an HBO subscription.

HBO NOW, on the other hand, isn’t reliant on a cable subscription and costs a flat $15/mo.

Cable providers regularly offer deals on HBO. Viewers who sign up for discounted HBO plans or special offers can take advantage of HBO GO at no cost. Users have access to HBO Go as long as they have a valid HBO cable or satellite TV subscription. HBO NOW discounts, on the other hand, are few and far between.

Cable users who don’t already have HBO can take advantage of a free seven-day trial subscription.

HBO NOW offers new users a seven-day free trial as well.

User experience

Both services are available on Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, streaming devices like Android TV, Apple TV and Roku, as well as gaming consoles such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Users can also access both via web players. 

The apps offer excellent user experiences across multiple devices and browsers. This includes the My List feature, which enables viewers to save movies and shows for later and the Continue Watching option, which allows users to pick up where they left off no matter which device they were using. Regardless of whether a user is viewing content on a phone, smart TV or streaming device, the service will remember the most recently watched shows and allow them to pick up where they left off on any other device.

Subscribers can share their login information with other people in their households, and both services permit viewing from three simultaneous streams. Each app has a Kids Lock feature that keeps young viewers restricted to age-appropriate content.

The major difference between these two apps rests in the ability to download content for later viewing. HBO GO permits users to download shows and movies and take their entertainment on the go. HBO NOW doesn’t, so viewers will need to be connected to Wi-Fi to view content.

The bottom line

The choice between HBO GO vs. HBO NOW isn’t going to be defined by which provides better content. Both apps give viewers access to the same TV shows, movies and documentaries from across the HBO network. Instead, the decision will most likely be based on whether or not viewers already have a cable subscription, or if they’re looking to cut the cord.

For people with cable who’re content to stick with it, HBO GO is a great option. This is hands down the best option for those already paying for an HBO cable subscription.

HBO NOW is absolutely the way to go for people who don’t have cable, or those looking to move away from it — the service provides access to all that HBO offers for just $15/mo. The app is also great for people interested in testing out HBO’s programming — as they are eligible for a seven-day free trial.

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