HBO Max vs. HBO Go vs. HBO Now: The key differences explained


Game of Thrones / Jon Snow wakes up

  • HBO and WarnerMedia just launched a new streaming service — HBO Max.
  • HBO already operates two major streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now.
  • So, what’s the difference between the three different streaming services? A surprising amount of stuff — let’s dig in!
  • See more: The best streaming services you can sign up for online

First, the bad news: “Friends” has left Netflix, and it’s not coming back any time soon.

Turns out there’s a good reason for that — it has a new home with HBO’s new streaming service alongside “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Rick and Morty,” and a mess of other stuff. That new service is named HBO Max, and it’s intended to serve as a deluxe version of HBO’s already existing streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now.

But what’s so different about HBO Max from HBO’s other streaming options? Well, it mostly comes down to content selection and device support. It’s also important to note that while all three services still currently exist, HBO Max is essentially being positioned as a replacement for HBO Go and HBO Now. In most cases, current HBO Go and HBO Now users can now access HBO Max at no extra cost, and the HBO Go app will be terminated on July 31.

To help further dispel some of the confusion surrounding all three services, we’ve broken down all of the key differences below.

Updated on 06/17/2020 by Kevin Webb: We’ve revised this article to include new details about the rebranding of HBO Now to HBO, and the upcoming termination of the HBO Go app.

What is HBO Max?

friends nbc

HBO Max is a standalone streaming service you don’t need a cable subscription to use. It costs $14.99 per month and includes all of HBO’s standard offerings, plus a ton of new stuff from various WarnerMedia properties, like DC Comics, CNN, TNT, TBS, and Cartoon Network.

HBO Max also produces original shows and movies, just like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. The service launched with more than 1,300 movies and over 10,000 hours worth of programming. For more detailed impressions, you can read our full review of HBO Max here.

In most cases, people who currently use HBO Go or HBO Now can now access HBO Max with their existing account details for no extra cost. You can check the HBO Max website to see if your subscription is eligible for HBO Max. 

What makes HBO Max different from HBO Now? Additional content.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

HBO Max is the same price as HBO Now, an older streaming service that features HBO original shows and the cable channel’s rotating package of movies. HBO Max currently offers all of HBO Now’s content plus a ton of new stuff from a variety of WarnerMedia brands — all for the same $14.99 a month price.

Most HBO Now subscribers can watch HBO Max with their HBO Now account at no extra cost. In other words, HBO Max is basically being positioned as an automatic upgrade to HBO Now. With that in mind, the HBO Now app will be rebranded as just “HBO” after July 31, but it’s unclear if it will keep the same $14.99 a month price. 

Since HBO Max offers a larger streaming library than HBO Now, it’s clearly the better choice for subscribers. With that said, the HBO Max app is currently missing from a few notable devices, including Roku and Fire TV products. If you use one of those devices as your primary streaming player, HBO Now is currently your only option. 

What is HBO Go? And what will happen to subscribers when the app disappears?


In the past, if you had a cable TV subscription to HBO, you could also use HBO Go, a freebie streaming option that came as a bonus. Plug in your cable TV login details, and you got access to a vast library of HBO content on-demand. It cost nothing extra, and worked on everything from your smartphone to your Apple TV/Roku/etc. to your computer.

On July 31, the HBO Go app will no longer be supported by most devices, but AT&T has brokered deals that give most HBO cable subscribers access to HBO Max instead. If you subscribe to HBO through any of the cable providers below, you can get access to HBO Max at no extra cost.

  • Altice One
  • Atlantic Broadband
  • Apple TV Channels
  • AT&T/AT&T U-verse
  • Cox
  • Optimum
  • RCN
  • Spectrum
  • Suddenlink
  • Verizon Fios
  • WOW!
  • Xfinity

The addition of other WarnerMedia networks’ content to HBO’s existing library is an enticing proposition.

The Not Too Late Show with Elmo HBO Max

Adding Adult Swim’s content to HBO Max means adding “Rick & Morty.” Adding CNN’s content to HBO Max means adding “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” Adding TBS’ content to HBO Max means adding “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” and “Conan.” 

All of which is to say that adding content from all these places adds up to a ton of really good stuff.

Looney Tunes cartoons! All the “Lord of the Rings” movies! There’s a surprising amount of additional content in the HBO Max package.

HBO Max’s lineup also features new original series, including “Love Life,” a comedy show starring Anna Kendrick, and “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” a new animated series featuring Bugs Bunny and company. 

Beyond original HBO programs, the HBO Max catalog features a wide range of TV series, including “Friends,” “Rick and Morty,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sesame Street” and “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.” The full library incorporates TV offerings from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, and Warner Bros.

What else is coming to HBO Max? A bunch of new original content, including a show based on “Dune” and a new movie from the director of “Bird Box.”

big little lies

Here’s everything that’s announced for HBO Max thus far:

-“10,000 hours of premium content from HBO, Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more.

-The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of ‘Friends.’

-The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all episodes ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars.’

-The exclusive streaming home to a string of new Warner Bros.’ produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including new DC Entertainment series ‘Batwoman,’ and ‘Katy Keene’ (spinoff of ‘Riverdale’).

-New exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti and Reese Witherspoon (‘Big Little Lies’). Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films.

-‘Dune: The Sisterhood,’ an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book ‘Dune,’ from director Denis Villeneuve.

-‘Tokyo Vice,’ based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat, starring Ansel Elgort.

-‘The Flight Attendant,’ a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian. Kaley Cuoco, executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti, will star.

-‘Love Life,’ a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig.

-‘Station Eleven,’ a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville (‘The Leftovers’) and directed by Hiro Murai (‘Barry’).

-‘Made for Love,’ a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Patrick Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson.

-‘Gremlins,’ an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.

-Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman.

-‘Lovecraft Country,’ a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele (‘Us’) and J.J. Abrams (‘Westworld’).

-‘The Nevers,’ Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly.

-‘The Gilded Age,’ set the opulent world of 1885 New York from ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Julian Fellowes.

-‘Avenue 5,’ a high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (‘Veep’) starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad.

-‘The Undoing,’ a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley (‘Big Little Lies’), directed by Susanne Bier (‘Bird Box’) starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.

-‘The Plot Against America,’ reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro.

-‘Perry Mason’, the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role.

-‘I Know This Much Is True,’ a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia. Based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.”

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