Now that HBO Max is live, the battle of the streaming services is even more complicated. In fact, it’s not all that straightforward even if you’re only looking at the three streaming services with “HBO” in their names. What’s the difference between HBO Max, HBO Go, and HBO Now? Which one should you subscribe to? Read on, and we’ll sort it out.
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HBO Go isn’t a standalone streaming service in itself. You get access to HBO Go automatically if you have a traditional HBO subscription through your cable company. Unlike the others, there’s no way to subscribe to HBO Go on its own. It offers subscribers access to HBO’s on-demand content, which includes a large catalog Hollywood movies, as well as HBO original series, comedy specials, and documentaries.
HBO Now is a standalone streaming service, and the content of HBO Now is identical to HBO Go. The only difference between the two services is that you can subscribe to HBO Now directly, without needing a traditional HBO subscription through your cable provider, making it perfect for cord-cutters. The regular price for HBO Now is $14.99 per month.
HBO Max is the newest entry in the streaming wars, and it also costs $14.99 per month. It combines select movies and TV shows from WarnerMedia’s many properties, plus HBO, plus new HBO Max originals. Put another way, it includes everything you get with HBO Go / HBO Now, plus a lot more.
That “a lot more” part is key. In addition to the standard HBO content, HBO Max offers shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, Adventure Time, and Batwoman. In terms of movies, it hosts classics like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally, as well as the entire Studio Ghibli movie catalog, plus movies like The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, and DC superhero films like Wonder Woman.
Which HBO Streaming Service Should You Get?
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You should get HBO Max – here’s how to sign up. It includes everything from HBO Now and HBO Go, plus a bunch of additional movies and TV shows. HBO Max costs the same price as the other two, but has a significantly larger library of content. That’s really all you need to know.
The only exception is if you currently subscribe to HBO through your cable service and don’t want to lose access to your HBO channels. But even in that case, you may want to consider canceling your current HBO subscription and signing up for HBO Max instead.
What If You Already Have HBO?
If you already have an HBO or HBO Now subscription, there’s a good chance you already have access to HBO Max. If you don’t, you can read the HBO Max FAQ for details about your specific situation. If all else fails, you can always cancel your current subscription and sign up for HBO Max separately, but you shouldn’t need to, since you’ll theoretically be able to log in with your existing cable service provider or HBO/Now credentials.
Chris Reed is IGN’s shopping and commerce editor. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed.
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