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HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max: What’s the Difference?

If you’re confused about the differences between HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max, you’re not alone. HBO’s streaming app has gone through several iterations—not all of them well-advertised—in an attempt to bring its cable programming to platforms like Apple TV and Roku. But the good news is that things have gotten a whole lot simpler as the company consolidated its apps and is now using a single standalone streaming service—HBO Max.  

Still confused? Not to worry. Groupon Coupons has the rundown of everything you need to know about HBO subscription services. And be sure to check out our updated list of HBO Max deals you should know about!


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What is HBO? 

First things first, let’s look at the history of HBO, the U.S.’s oldest (and longest continuously running) subscription TV service. HBO started as a premium TV channel with theatrically released motion pictures, documentaries, comedy specials, and more for a monthly fee. And now it's just as well-known for its award-winning original series, like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones. HBO has grown to encompass seven channels and video on demand (called HBO On Demand).

But as HBO began to stream its content on platforms like Apple TV and Roku, things got...  murkier. It launched two streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now, as a way to stream content. (HBO Go was for existing HBO subscribers, while HBO Now was a standalone service for people who cut the cord on cable.) Then in May 2020, HBO pivoted to a single streaming service called HBO Max, which offers even more blockbuster movies and series, thanks to its catalog of AT&T-owned properties like Warner Bros. and CNN, as well as Max Originals and same-day theatrical releases. 

What is HBO Max?

HBO Max is the standalone streaming app for HBO. Along with all of HBO programming, it has an extra 10,000 hours of movies and series from Turner networks including CNN, TNT, and TBS. It also has exclusive rights to Max Originals, including Love Life starring Anna Kendrick and Selena + Chef—a seriously cute cooking show with Selena Gomez. Starting 2021, and perhaps most excitingly, HBO Max will debut Warner Bros. films like The Little Things and Godzilla vs. Kong the same day they’re released in theaters. 

  • How to get HBO Max: Sign up at hbomax.com, or download the HBO Max app and subscribe through your app store ($14.99/month). Depending on their TV, internet, or mobile provider, HBO subscribers may have free access to HBO Max.  
  • What else you get: In addition to all of HBO’s programming, you’ll get an extra 10,000 hours of movies and series, Max Originals, and same-day access to Warner Bros. theater releases, for no extra cost.
  • Where to stream HBO Max: You can stream HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV, most Android devices, Apple TV and most Apple devices, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, Roku, Samsung TV, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, and Xfinity X1 and Flex. 

What’s on HBO Max?

So much. HBO Max is the only streaming service with access to the entire catalog of HBO’s premium content. (You can also pay extra for an HBO add-on to Hulu and other streaming subscriptions.) That means you can re-watch classic HBO shows like Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Veep, and check out newer offerings, including Euphoria and The Undoing. Starting 2021, HBO Max will debut Warner Bros. films like Judas and the Black Messiah the same day they’re released in theaters.

What are HBO Go and HBO Now?: Apps you can forget about

Seriously, just strike them from your memory and delete the apps from your phone (they won’t work anyway). Both HBO Go and HBO Now—which were ways of streaming HBO content with or without a cable subscription—have been discontinued. Easy peasy.

What if I just want HBO?

Not a problem. Simply sign up as part of a cable package from your TV provider (plans vary), or through hbo.com/ways-to-get ($14.99/month). But if you later decide to check out HBO Max and its boatloads of content, you may be able to use your HBO credentials to get it for free. It’ll depend on whether your TV provider supports HBO Max (popular ones like AT&T U-Verse, Xfinity, and DIRECTV do, but see a full list here).