HBO isn’t only for cable subscribers
Game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley and all of your favorite HBO shows are easily accessible without a cable subscription. There are a few ways to get HBO as a standalone service, but sometimes you can get it for a discount by adding it to an existing streaming service. Hulu, DirecTV Now, and Amazon Prime are three services you might currently subscribe to that give you HBO for a discounted rate. We’ll explain the different options and you can choose the one that best fits your situation.
|Service||Cheapest Service Offer||Monthly HBO Price||Total Monthly Cost||Free Trial Length|
|Hulu||$7.99 /mo||$5 /mo add-on||$12.99 /mo||7 days|
|Amazon Channels||$99 /yr prime ($8.25 /mo)||$12.99 /mo add-on||$21.24 /mo||7 days|
|HBO Now||n/a||$14.99 /mo standalone||$14.99 /mo||30 days|
|Sling TV||$20 /mo||$15 /mo add-on||$35 /mo||7 days|
|DirecTV Now||$35 /mo||$5 /mo add-on||$40 /mo||7 days|
As you can see from the table above, Hulu is the cheapest option to get HBO. If you already have another service (like DirecTV Now) then adding on HBO might be even cheaper. Use the table above to see your options and continue reading to find out more about each one.
Get HBO with Hulu (existing and new subscribers)
UPDATE: The Hulu HBO for $5 offer is no longer valid. We are, however, going to leave this information in place as it still outlines how to add HBO to Hulu. Instead of $5, adding HBO to Hulu costs $15 a month.
Hulu has recently started offering HBO as an addon to the service for only $5 a month. Even HBO’s standalone stream (described below) costs $15 a month. If you get Hulu’s basic plan for $7.99 and add HBO to it for $5, you’re still paying less than the typical price of an HBO subscription.
You’ll also get access to Hulu’s massive on-demand library. If you’re not familiar with Hulu’s service, it’s really similar to Netflix. However, rather than have such a heavy focus on movies, original content, and seasons of older TV shows, Hulu adds episodes of new content a day or two after the episode airs live. If you’re a huge fan of Marvel’s Agents of Shield, A.P. Bio, or any other currently airing TV show, Hulu will allow you to stay up to date with the most recent episodes for cheap.
If you’d rather not wait for content to become available on-demand, Hulu offers another package that includes live cable TV. The service is aptly named Hulu with Live TV and costs $34.99 a month. As you can see from the picture above, the live TV channels include many of the most popular ones available. Out of all of the streaming providers, Hulu ranks the highest for local channel availability. However, it might not have every local channel in your location. Make sure to check out Hulu’s page to see what channels you can actually get.
Get HBO through HBO Now
HBO’s naming convention can be a little confusing. HBO, HBO Now, and HBO Go all sound very similar, but aren’t technically the same. HBO is the name of the channel and is basically the brand/company. HBO Now and HBO Go are the two services that HBO offers as ways to watch the channel. They are both services that allow you watch HBO and the only major difference between them is how you subscribe to them. Both HBO Now and HBO Go show all HBO programming including movies, TV series, documentaries, sports, specials, and more. Both services give you access to the content live, so you don’t have to worry about missing Game of Thrones’ newest episode as it airs.
HBO Go is how you watch HBO content if you have an existing cable subscription. If you add HBO to your cable bill (or it’s already included), then you get full access to HBO Go the streaming service. You can log into the HBO Go website using your cable provider and credentials to stream shows rather than watch them through cable. The price varies by provider (some offer discounts), but it is typically $15 extra for HBO on top of your cable bill. This $15 includes HBO Go for free.
HBO Now on the other hand, is an internet-only service that isn’t tied to anything. It’s a standalone subscription that costs $14.99 a month. You can purchase it directly through HBO’s website, but there are other purchase options for that too. We discuss the different methods and their benefits in the section below. There’s no benefit to HBO Go versus HBO Now except the fact that one has a big expense cable bill attached to it.
One benefit of buying the service through HBO (whether Go or Now) is that you get a full one month free trial. The free trial length for the other options is based on the discretion of the provider, but there’s no service that offers more than a month.
How to get HBO Now
As we mentioned above, the first way to get HBO Now is through the HBO website. When you click on the “Stream FREE for 1 Month” button, you’ll see a popup for what device you want to download it on. You can download it on a mobile phone or tablet (both iOS and Android devices work), get it through your Amazon account, or add it to a Roku player.
HBO Now on a phone or tablet
Downloading the HBO app through the app store or the play store will let you watch the channel on that device. If you want to then watch HBO on a TV, you’re going to need an additional device that can “cast” or “mirror” your screen. Some Smart TV’s have this capability built in and it’s fairly easy. If your TV is older, or doesn’t support mirroring, you still have a couple of options. Apple TV is fantastic if the device you’re installing HBO on is an Apple product and Google Chromecast is the go-to for android devices. Both devices will let you start the service on your phone and then copy the screen onto your TV. Don’t worry though, once the stream is started your phone doesn’t get tied up or continue to have its battery drained. The devices will run the service on their hardware, giving you plenty of time to text your friends about the episode you’re all watching.
HBO Now on Amazon
We recently wrote an article about Amazon Channels and how it’s attempting to build a complete al la carte service for channels. Without Amazon Prime, the service costs the same as buying it directly from HBO. However, with Prime it only costs $12.99 a month. With over 60% of households now having access to Prime, it seems like a pretty good way to save a few bucks a month.
Another thing we mentioned in the article is that Amazon Channels adds a lot of convenience to the cord cutting world. For example, if you wanted to get CBS All Access and HBO not through Amazon Channels, you’d have to take a lot more steps. You’d have to go both websites individually, put in your billing information for both, and then download each app separately on the devices you wanted to stream on. With Amazon, you get a single marketplace that only requires you to enter your information once and a single app to play both of your services. The Amazon Prime app is available on almost every streaming device you can think of, making it super easy to swap between services at your convenience.
With a discount for prime members and a convenient single location for everything, it’s hard to think of a good reason NOT to purchase HBO through Amazon Channels.
HBO Now on a Roku
If you’ve read any other articles on our site you’ve probably seen us mention Roku. Roku has been a huge name in the streaming industry since its inception and has continued to improve their hardware almost to the point of perfection. There are a few different versions of Roku and they vary from the standard $29.99 model to 4k models that cost $79.99. We recommend them often due to their reliability, low price, and the ease of use. Once you get your Roku device, setting it up is almost as easy as plugging in both ends of a cable. They have a lot of their own apps and support almost every major streaming service making it convenient and cheaper if you ever want to swap or add services in the future.
Watch HBO on another streaming service
If we’re looking at ways to specifically watch HBO, the three options above are the cheapest. However, if you’re a cord cutter already or are looking to watch some other channels without cable, you may want to add HBO to another streaming service. These services start at $20 a month and increase from there in cost and available channels. We’ve written guides (or are working on them!) for every service listed below. Each service has different packages and offer very different channels, so make sure to click on the guides to find out more about the service. The HBO add-on price for each service is as follows: