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HBO Max vs. HBO NOW vs. HBO GO: What’s the difference between HBO’s three streaming services?

Joe Supan

May 19, 2020 — 6 min read

May 19, 2020

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  • HBO Max has everything on HBO GO and HBO NOW, plus hundreds of additional shows and movies
  • HBO Max ($15/mo.) launched nationwide on May 27 
  • HBO NOW ($15/mo.) subscribers automatically get HBO Max at no extra cost
  • Subscribers who get HBO through AT&T TV, DIRECTV, Hulu or Spectrum also get HBO Max at no extra cost

Now that HBO Max has launched, HBO has three streaming services — HBO Max, HBO NOW and HBO GO — a confusing assortment for anyone who’s thinking about signing up.

In short, HBO Max has everything on HBO GO and HBO NOW, plus a whole lot more, including Friends, The Big Bang Theory, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and all of the Batman movies. If you currently subscribe to HBO NOW, you’ll also get HBO Max at no extra cost. 

HBO GO isn’t quite as clear cut. If you get HBO through AT&T TV, DIRECTV, Hulu or Spectrum, you’ll also get HBO Max at no extra cost. Unfortunately, if you subscribe through Amazon Prime Video, DISH, Xfinity or Comcast, you won’t be grandfathered into HBO Max.

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Table of contents

What’s the difference between HBO Max, HBO NOW and HBO GO?

CompareHBO MaxHBO NOWHBO GO
Price$15/mo.$15/mo.$10-$18/mo. (through TV provider)
Free trialSeven daysSeven daysN/A
Number of movies*1,6471,0841,084
Number of TV shows*331201201
Simultaneous streamsThreeThreeThree
Offline downloads
Requires TV subscription

The main difference between HBO’s three streaming services is how you subscribe. HBO NOW and HBO Max are like Netflix or Hulu — you pay them directly each month for access to the streaming service. However, HBO Max has a much larger library than HBO NOW and HBO GO, which are mostly limited to HBO’s original shows and movies. 

HBO GO is for people who pay for HBO through their TV provider. They can use their TV login to access HBO’s library on-demand. Both HBO NOW and HBO GO have the exact same libraries of TV shows and movies, while HBO Max includes everything they have, plus much more.

HBO Max

HBO Max is a new streaming service that launched on May 27. Like HBO NOW, you can subscribe directly at HBOMax.com, or through AT&T, DIRECTV, Spectrum, Hulu, YouTube TV, Apple and Google Play. It has everything that HBO’s two other streaming services do, plus a large library of non-HBO shows and movies. 

HBO Max also plans to release 31 original series in 2020, including six at launch. These will be in addition to the original content that HBO produces on its own, which will also be available on HBO Max.  

HBO NOW

Since 2015, HBO NOW has been HBO’s standalone streaming service. For $15/mo., you get access to everything HBO’s ever made, plus a rotating collection of around more than a thousand movies. HBO Max will include everything that HBO NOW has for the same price.

You can subscribe on HBONOW.com, through Prime Video and Hulu or through internet providers like Consolidated Communications, Frontier, Google Fiber, Liberty, North State, Optimum, Service Electric and Verizon. If you currently have an HBO NOW subscription, you’ll automatically get HBO Max at no extra cost when it launches.

HBO GO

HBO GO is a 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. 

If you get HBO through AT&T TV, DIRECTV, Hulu or Spectrum, you’ll automatically get an HBO Max subscription at no extra cost. 

Content on HBO Max vs. HBO NOW and HBO GO

HBO NOW and HBO GO have the exact same content — a mix of HBO original shows and documentaries, plus a revolving collection of hundreds of licensed movies. 

HBO Max will keep everything that HBO NOW and GO has, but also add a lot more. HBO Max includes binge-watch classics like Friends and The Big Bang Theory, such beloved movies as The Dark Knight and The Lord of the Rings trilogy and dozens of original shows.

Best shows and movies on HBO NOW and HBO GO 

When we evaluated the original content from every streaming service, HBO came out first by a mile. Its original shows and movies earned an average Rotten Tomatoes rating of 85%, and it’s won almost three times as many Emmys in the past six years as second-place Netflix. Here are some of the most popular shows and movies you can stream on HBO NOW and HBO GO: 

Best shows and movies on HBO Max 

HBO Max has everything you can currently get on HBO NOW and HBO GO, plus hundreds more TV shows and movies. Here are some of the most popular titles you can stream in addition to the above list: 

Shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory are grabbing most of the headlines, but HBO Max has one of the best movie collections of any streaming service, too. 

Because it’s owned by WarnerMedia, it has access to a vast catalog, including Warner Bros. blockbusters, classic films from the Criterion Collection and every movie set in the DC Universe.

Anime fans will be pleased, too. HBO Max is the only place you can stream Studio Ghibli movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, and includes everything on CrunchyRoll, a streaming service dedicated entirely to the genre. 

How to get HBO

There are three ways you can get HBO: through a TV provider, by subscribing directly through HBO NOW or subscribing to HBO Max. 

Even though HBO Max and HBO NOW will both cost $14.99/mo., HBO Max will have a lot more content. As such, HBO NOW might be seen as obsolete. That’s why current HBO NOW subscribers automatically get access to HBO Max. 

AT&T TV NOW is the cheapest way to get HBO

There aren’t many ways to get discounts on HBO. Of the dozens of streaming services and cable providers that offer the premium network, only AT&T TV NOW offers a discount on the $15/mo. sticker price. 


You can add HBO to AT&T TV NOW’s $55/mo. PLUS plan for an extra $10/mo. The channel (and access to HBO GO) is also included along with Cinemax in the $80/mo. MAX plan. 

Will HBO Max replace HBO NOW?

For all intents and purposes, yes. HBO has said that it doesn’t plan to eliminate the HBO NOW streaming service, but it will essentially become obsolete. That’s because all HBO NOW subscribers get HBO Max at no extra cost, and HBO Max will have everything HBO NOW does, plus a whole lot more. There’s a chance HBO NOW will get discounted at some point to attract customers who only want HBO and nothing more. 

Which devices support HBO Max, HBO NOW and HBO Go?

WarnerMedia says HBO Max is “available on many popular devices” at launch. So, it’s safe to assume it will work with the same streaming devices that HBO NOW and HBO GO do. Here’s what you can currently stream HBO on:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Amazon Fire tablets
  • Android phones and tablets
  • Android TV
  • Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch
  • Apple TV
  • Computers (web browser)
  • Google Chromecast
  • PlayStation 4
  • Roku
  • Samsung Smart TVs
  • TiVo
  • Xbox One

Which one should you get?

For almost everyone, HBO Max is the best choice. It has every movie and TV show that HBO GO and HBO NOW do for the exact same price.

If you’re currently using HBO GO through AT&T TV, DIRECTV, Hulu or Spectrum, you’ll automatically be signed up for HBO Max at no extra cost. 

For more updates on HBO Max and other streaming services, bookmark our Resource Center and follow our experts on Facebook and Twitter

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