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
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
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
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
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.
Screengrab via DirecTV Now
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.