When it launched in 2010, HBO Go was only available to HBO subscribers through Verizon Fios, giving Big Red cable customers the ability to access HBO on their computers. Over the years, the streaming service expanded to other cable providers and devices, including smartphones and various dongles. While it was once limited to those that subscribed to HBO through their cable provider, HBO Go has recently become a stand-alone subscription service dubbed HBO Now. Initially limited to Apple TV, it has since rolled out to more platforms.
Despite its original moniker of Home Box Office, HBO is more notable for its original series lineup rather than movies. While HBO Go and Now include premium movies, shows like Game of Thrones, Veep, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are the real draws.
HBO Content Offerings
It’s not just the new stuff. HBO Go houses almost every series ever aired, from award-winning miniseries “Band of Brothers” to cult favorites that ended too soon like “Bored to Death.” The streaming service boasts a show library of previous and current seasons, making episodes available as they air.
“Almost” is the key word here. If there is a complaint, it’s that the catalog is incomplete. HBO Go is missing several past HBO series, such as “The Ricky Gervais Show.” We won’t complain too loudly, however, especially considering its collection of documentaries and special events. The streaming service features HBO’s own documentaries, such as the recent“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” as well as filmed concerts and events, like the Beyonce and Jay Z “On the Run Tour.”
Users can stream popular movies like “The Lego Movie” and “Divergent” thanks to HBO’s distribution deals with several top studios; however people looking to watch fresh from the theater movies will have to look elsewhere. HBO usually takes a few months to get newly released movies, while services like iTunes or Google Play Movies & TV have them available soon after their time in theaters. That’s not to say that HBO Go’s movie collection isn’t impressive, as the service is constantly updated with new titles.
HBO Go users are no longer tethered to their computers as they were when the service originally debuted. In addition to streaming via a web browser, users can watch HBO Go content on their smartphones and tablets through the Android and iOS apps.
For households with only one cable box and multiple televisions, fans can stream their favorite show from HBO Go on their televisions via media streaming players like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV. Of course, gamers can access the service on major gaming consoles as well.
The caveat here is that cable providers have limited HBO Go in the past. For example, Comcast blocked HBO from Roku devices until late last year, and still blocks it on PlayStation 4 consoles as of this writing.
Ease of Use
The service requires an authentication with your HBO subscription information to get started on any device. After this, users can watch their favorite HBO content whenever they want. The HBO Go interface is clean and easy to navigate whether on a computer, smartphone, tablet, or television.
On the website, users can search content via the eight tabs at the top of the screen, which includes movies, series, sports, and documentaries. Similar to iTunes, there’s a rotating display of new content on the home screen, allowing users to simply click to access such videos. The mobile version is just as easy to search on, with all versions featuring a manual search function.
HBO Go is a great way for cable subscribers to watch their favorite HBO content wherever they want. With HBO Now freeing the service from a cable subscription, there’s nothing to stop it from rivaling Netflix as the king of the streaming content mountain – outside of the price. At $14.99 per month, HBO Now costs almost twice as much as Netflix, which starts at $7.99.