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What is the difference between HBO Max, HBO NOW and HBO Go?



  HBO Max logo on a laptop screen.
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HBO's parent company, WarnerMedia, is launching a new subscription-based streaming service called HBO Max. So what does this mean for the existing streaming services, HBO Now and HBO Go? Well, they stick around, thanks to a confusing business history of contracts.

HBO Max is more content for the same price

If you don't currently subscribe to an HBO service, all you need to know is HBO Max offers you the largest content library for the best price ($ 1

4.99 per month ). So save yourself the headache of figuring out which of the three services suits you best and just go for the best. If you are already subscribed to HBO through your cable provider (HBO Go) or HBO's previous offering (HBO Now), here's a basic overview:

  • HBO Max ($ 14.99 per month): WarnerMedia's new standalone streaming service includes everything on HBO Now, plus additional movies and TV from partners such as BBC Studios, The Criterion Collection and Warner Bros.
  • HBO Now ($ 14.99 per month): This is the older standalone streaming service, with HBO content, but none of its partners. Some HBO Now subscribers will get free access to HBO Max when the new service launches May 27, 2020.
  • HBO Go: This is the bundled streaming service that allows cable subscribers to access HBO content on their various digital devices

Why would WarnerMedia create a new standalone HBO streaming service if it already exists? The answer lies deep in the tangled web and dark history of modern American corporate media.

HBO Now is older, smaller and smaller

Most consumers prefer HBO Max to HBO Now. In fact, it's hard to come up with a reason to stick with HBO Now unless you get it for free with an existing subscription to a Google, Amazon, Verizon, or Hulu service. Based on the approach that WarnerMedia follows, that seems to be designed.

  The HBO NOW logo on a smartphone.
NYC Russ / Shutterstock

HBO Now is a streaming service from HBO, while HBO Max is a streaming service from HBO's parent company, WarnerMedia. This means that HBO Max will have much more content. And some of that content will be exclusive through partnerships with BBC Studios, The Criterion Collection, Cartoon Network and more, all at the same price. Due to the complex contracts that HBO and WarnerMedia have built with customers and partners over the past decade, only a few HBO Now customers get free access to HBO Max.

Not sure if your HBO Now subscription gives you access to HBO Max when it launches? Fortunately, HBO has a handy guide on how to change your HBO Now plan based on your provider.

If you access your HBO NOW subscription through a service such as Verizon, for example, you will have access to HBO Max right at launch. If you have AT&T, you may need to access HBO Max via YouTube TV. It all depends on how you already have access to HBO content, and all the ways you can do that are the culprits for all the confusion.

If you currently subscribe to HBO directly through HBO for $ 14.99 per month, you can cancel and pay the same price for the larger, better content library.

HBO Go is for cable subscribers

  HBO Go logo on a large screen TV.
AhmadDanialZulhilmi / Shutterstock

Like HBO, HBO Go is now a streaming service that comes directly from HBO. The big difference is that HBO Now is available as a standalone service, while HBO Go is only available as an add-on from service providers such as Verizon, Cox and DirecTV.

If you have HBO through your cable company, you probably pay about $ 15 extra every month for HBO. You can access HBO Max's larger library by canceling your existing HBO Go subscription and logging in directly to HBO Max.

You can't watch the standard HBO channel by cable, but you can still find the same content – and more – in the HBO Max app on your streaming device.


Whether HBO and its parent company, WarnerMedia, will attempt to resolve some of the brand confusion in the future remains to be seen. Consolidating services and / or content is obvious. However, as anyone familiar with the nature of entertainment contracts will tell you, it is definitely a pipe dream too.


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