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The cheapest way to watch HBO without cable

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From 1979 to 2015, the only way to watch HBO was through a cable subscription. Even HBO Go, the service’s streaming service, was tied to a cable subscription when it launched, leaving most to borrow account info from their parents to watch Game of Thrones. But thanks to the rise of live TV streaming, there are now several ways to watch HBO online without cable, and they vary pretty significantly when it comes to price and secondary perks. 

Curious which option is right for you? Here’s everything you need to know. Remember, just because something looks like a good deal doesn’t make it so. Maybe sure you read the fine print before you make a choice.

How to watch HBO online without cable

1. HBO Now

Cost: $14.99 per month flat, no extra subscription costs

If all you care about is streaming HBO, there’s no better or cheaper option than subscribing directly through HBO Now. (Here’s a brief rundown on the difference between HBO Go and HBO Now if you’re confused.) Each of the other services on this list requires you to subscribe to their main service before you can sign up for HBO as an add-on service, which means you’re mostly paying for the ease of watching HBO content through another service’s interface. That’s great if, for example, you’re looking to get a live TV package that also includes ESPN, but if you don’t mind using a standalone app, HBO Now is an incredible service. You get all of HBO’s content for a flat $14.99 per month, with no extra costs to consider.

Devices: HBO Now works on every prominent streaming device on the market including Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Roku, Apple TV, Samsung smart TVs, iOS, and Android. While the service doesn’t have a Chromecast app, you can cast the HBO Now Android app on your Android device to your Chromecast-connected screen.

Photo via HBO Now

2. Hulu

Cost: $14.99 per month

Your next option is probably subscribing via Hulu. While most services allow you to watch HBO online at the same price point—$14.99 per month—Hulu offers the cheapest entry point. A basic Hulu subscription only costs $8 per month cost, which unlocks its entire collection of movies, shows, documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals—albeit with commercials. That brings your total to $23.99 a month. Thankfully, you don’t need Hulu with Live TV to subscribe to HBO through the service. Your basic Hulu subscription will do, and its interface is ideal for users who don’t mind learning mildly complicated menu options in the name of getting personalized recommendations. 

Devices: Streaming HBO via Hulu can be done on your computer, Android TV, iOS or Android device, Apple TV, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Roku, Amazon Fire devices, TiVo, Samsung smart TVs, Sony smart TVs, Wii U, Vizio smart TVs, and almost any other device you can think of. While there isn’t a Chromecast app, Android users can cast the Android Hulu app to their Chromecast.

Screengrab via Hulu

3. Amazon Prime

Cost: $14.99 per month

Subscribing to HBO via Amazon requires a Prime membership. Membership costs either $99.99 up front for the complete Prime service (which includes two-day Amazon shipping and other perks) or $8.99 per month for just its video options. Then you have to pay $14.99 per month for HBO. Still, there are advantages to using Amazon Prime’s video service as your primary streaming source. Rather than teach your family how to use multiple apps, Amazon Prime has a simple menu that puts all of your favorite Prime content right alongside your add-on channels. Ultimately, you’ll pay around the same cost per year for HBO through Prime as you would Hulu, Sling TV, or PS Vue. It boils down to what interface you prefer and what service you might already be subscribing to (or considering). It’s worth noting that Amazon has a considerable library of best Amazon originals, documentaries, and movies, including some in 4K Ultra HD, and there’s something new on Amazon every month.

Devices: Like Hulu, Amazon has strived to make sure their app can work on every device. If you have a smart TV, Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire device, PlayStation 3 or 4, Xbox 360 or Xbox One, Android, iOS, or desktop computer, you’ll be able to stream Amazon’s video content.

Screengrab via Amazon

4. DirecTV Now

Cost: $5 per month

DirecTV Now, Direct TVs online streaming cable solution, is the only place online where you’ll be able to watch HBO online for less than $15 a month. At just $5 a month, HBO is a no-brainer for DirecTV Now subscribers. A basic DirecTV Now subscription costs $35 per month and comes with 60-plus channels in addition to local channels. For $40 a month you can get a world-class basic cable package, plus HBO, without signing any long-term commitments. It’s an incredible deal, one that’s made all the better for AT&T Unlimited customers, who get a $25 discount on every DirecTV Now package. But if you don’t need streaming cable, it’s still cheaper to just subscribe to HBO Now. If you’re a previous HBO subscriber through cable, DirecTV Now will have the most familiar on-demand and live streaming interfaces of all the services listed here.

Devices: DirecTV Now is a solid service that works on almost every device, with the notable exception of PlayStation consoles. DirecTV now works with Amazon devices, Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS and Android, browsers, and even Chromecast.

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Screengrab via DirecTV Now

5. Sling TV

Cost: $15 per month

As a live TV streaming service, Sling TV is a good deal, offering a small package of 30 premium channels like ESPN and AMC for just $20 per month. However, when you add a $15 HBO subscription for HBO, that costs balloons to $35 per month. That’s $5 cheaper than competitor DirecTV Now’s service with HBO, but DirecTV Now has twice the channels. Sling TV has an easy-to-learn interface, which makes it great to watch HBO online, but its costs are too high for the amount of content it offers, especially when you add on HBO service. Sling TV is a decent service, but until it adds channels, its basic package is just too basic to justify the cost as an HBO subscriber.

Devices: Sling TV is available on a wide range of platforms—Roku, Amazon Fire devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xiaomi, LG or Samsung smart TVs, iOS or Android, a computer, or an Xbox One—but like DirecTV Now, don’t expect to find it on PlayStation. 

Photo via Sling TV

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/upstream/watch-hbo-online/

New Movie Tech

Roku expands its free streaming channel with entertainment and live sports

Charmaine Blake

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“Roku’s ad-supported free streaming channel is expanding. No, not to more platforms — it already did that. But rather, it’s expanding its content lineup. While before the channel offered free-to-stream movies and news, it will now feature live and linear sports and entertainment content, the company says.

As of earlier this year, The Roku Channel added live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and, most recently, The Young Turks, from the TYT Network.

It will now add entertainment content from partners including TMZ, AFV, FailArmy, People Are Awesome, Pet Collective and more. As with the channel’s other offerings, none of these streams will require a subscription.

Meanwhile, the channel will also begin to stream live sporting events from the Adventure Sports Network, COMBT GO, EDGEsport, Stadium and Wham Network, among others.

The additions come on the heels of Roku’s Q3 earnings, which saw the company beat Wall Street expectations on hardware, but saw platform revenue falling short — causing the stock to drop.

The company has been trying to move beyond being only a hardware device maker selling TVs and streaming players, to grow its platform business and advertising revenues. A key part of that strategy is The Roku Channel, which opens up Roku’s platform to a wider audience, and allows the company to sell ads against content.

The plan may work in the long run, but it’s taking time to ramp up, it seems.

However, Roku did report a growing user base with 23.8 million active users, streaming 6.2 billion hours in the quarter. That was ahead of expectations of 23.1 million users and 5.8 billion hours.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/08/roku-expands-its-free-streaming-channel-with-entertainment-and-live-sports/

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New Movie Tech

Disney to invest in more original content for Hulu & expand service internationally

Charmaine Blake

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“In addition to plans to launch its own Netflix rival, Disney+, next year, the company says it also plans to increase investment in its other streaming service, Hulu. Thanks to its buyout of 21st Century Fox, Disney now own 60 percent of the TV streaming service, which it gives it “considerable say” in how Hulu is run, noted Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger on this week’s earnings call with investors. He said the plan now is to invest in more original content for Hulu and expand the service internationally.

Disney would also be open to acquiring more of a stake in Hulu, the CEO later said.

Disney sees the value in both Hulu’s IP and talent, particularly on the television and movies side, Iger told investors. And it plans to use the television production capabilities of the now-combined company to “fuel Hulu with a lot more original programming,” he added. This, Disney believes, will help make Hulu more competitive in the marketplace…………………………………..”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/09/disney-to-invest-in-more-original-content-for-hulu-expand-service-internationally/

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New Movie Tech

Hulu adds Starz to its premium add-ons

Charmaine Blake

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“Following news of Hulu’s plans to move towards skinnier bundles, including those consisting of premium add-ons, the streaming service this morning announced the addition of Starz to its service. The Starz premium add-on will be available across all tiers of Hulu’s service, including its Limited Commercials and No Commercials plans, as well as its Live TV service.

It costs an extra $8.99 per month – the same price it sells for on rival services, like Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, for example.

This is the fourth premium add-on to come to Hulu, and the most affordable, following HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax, which cost $14.99/month, $10.99/month, and $9.99/month, respectively. Hulu, so far, has been surprisingly slow to roll out a customizable set of add-on subscriptions for those who want access to premium entertainment or sports programming.

Meanwhile, rival live TV service YouTube TV offers the NBA League Pass, Fox Soccer Plus, Curiosity Stream, Showtime, Starz, AMC Premiere, Shudder, and Sundance Now. Sling TV breaks up its extras into bundles customers can pick and choose from, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now offers programming tiers with optional add-ons, too……………………………….”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/23/hulu-adds-starz-to-its-premium-add-ons/

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