HBO NOW vs HBO GO for ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Episode 6 Finale


HBO’s servers are in danger of experiencing some problems during the Game of Thrones finale this week, just like they did for the Game of Thrones premiere. So while you’re planning your viewing strategy for the series finale, how do you know which of the two streaming services to choose? The answer is that each is good for very separate audiences, but you should have a backup streaming option in place in case the servers just can’t handle the number of people using them. With so many people tuning in for the finale, it’s very likely that you might need that backup.

HBO GO Is a Streaming Service for People with Cable or Satellite

HBO GO is one of HBO’s two streaming services. HBO GO would be your choice if you have a cable or satellite subscription that already includes HBO in the package. But unfortunately, HBO Go isn’t available with all cable companies. Some are still negotiating terms to be able to use HBO GO. So you should check before tonight to make sure that your cable company lets you access and use HBO GO to watch Game of Thrones.

If your cable company works with HBO GO, then you’ll have free access to the HBO GO streaming service as long as you have HBO with your cable or satellite package.

HBO NOW is for People Who Don’t Have a Cable or Satellite Service

HBO NOW is HBO’s standalone streaming service and provides all of HBO’s programming via the internet. You don’t need a cable or satellite subscription for this one because it’s standalone. But if you’re already paying for HBO elsewhere, you won’t get this one for free. The service costs $14.99 per month — but it offers a one-month free trial if you want to give it a try for the finale. You must cancel before the end of the trial to avoid charges.

To get HBO NOW, download the HBO Now App on your phone or tablet. It’s available in the App StoreGoogle Play store and Amazon Appstore and other places.

Once your account is established, you can watch HBO Now through the app on your portable device, through the app on this extensive list of streaming devices, or on your computer over the web at Sign in with the email and password you used to establish your account and start watching. You can watch live or on demand later.


The services are fairly similar. They both offer all of HBO’s shows (including Game of Thrones) and they both stream on phones, TV, tablets, and laptops. You can stream live episodes with both too. But only HBO GO is free if you already have an HBO package with a cable or satellite provider, and only HBO NOW will work without a cable or satellite package.

There’s a bonus if you watch on HBO NOW or GO. Your episode live stream will likely start about three minutes before everyone else. In other words, the episode might begin at 8:57 p.m. Eastern rather than 9 p.m. Eastern, leaving you just a couple minutes ahead of people watching with more traditional methods. During previous seasons, viewers could also skip ahead even during live streams and finish the episode before other people or jump past the “previously on” section.

However, there’s also a downside. If the servers are overwhelmed, then both HBO GO and HBO NOW might not work right away. Here’s a look at some issues that users had during the premiere:

In addition to these issues, sometimes the streaming quality isn’t as great for HBO NOW or HBO GO if the servers are overloaded. At least, this is what some viewers have noted. If you have issues with either one, you can try opening the app on a different device, like on your iPad rather than your phone or your computer, for example. Sometimes this is enough to get it working.

Backups & Alternatives

So what backups and alternatives should you consider? Whether you’re using HBO GO or NOW, you’ll want to try the free trial options of these alternatives since you’re already paying for access to HBO.

You can get a free trial for Amazon Prime’s HBO Channel. If you have Amazon Prime or want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch live and on-demand HBO content here through the HBO Amazon Channel, which also comes with a free 7-day trial.

You can also get a free trial with PlayStation Vue. Whether you already have PlayStation Vue or you want to start a free 5-day trial of PlayStation Vue, you can watch live and on-demand HBO content through the HBO add-on, which comes with a free 7-day trial. Once signed up, you can watch the show either live as it airs or on-demand anytime after.

Whether you already have Hulu or you want to sign up for a new subscription, HBO is available as an add-on to either Hulu or Hulu with Live TV. Once signed up, you can watch the show live as it airs, or you can watch it on-demand anytime after.

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