HBO Now Review

8.5

Great

Price 9 out of 10

Interface 7.5 out of 10

Compatibility 9.2 out of 10

New Shows 8 out of 10

If you’re a fan of HBO content, then it’s probably worth looking into HBO Now, the video on demand service operated by the HBO network. Customers can gain access to HBO’s library of original shows, movies and more. The service targets cord cutters who use services such as Netflix and Hulu. It was launched in 2015 and currently has over five million paying subscribers. The service is available to those living in the US and certain US territories.

The difference between HBO Go and HBO Now is that HBO Now does not require a television subscription in order to use it. Instead, users can purchase a standalone subscription which can be cancelled whenever they like.

In 2019, WarnerMedia announced that HBO Now subscribers who are billed directly by HBO would be able to access the new streaming service HBO Max at no additional cost.

The future of HBO Now is a little uncertain at present, but as of May 2020, the service has no plans to be immediately discontinued. WarnerMedia has stated that customers should ‘stay tuned for more details’.

Pros and Cons

Pros

Available with a free trial. Offering people access to a 7 day free trial means they don’t have to spend any money if they don’t like the service.

Exclusive access to HBO content. As the home of original HBO content, plus the shows people are used to watching on HBO, the reason for its popularity is clear.

High quality branding. Few people will fail to recognise the HBO logo, and the distinctive color theme of the site is easy on the eye.

Cons

Expensive. Priced at $14.99 a month, this platform is on the upper end of the pricing scale compared to other platforms. For example, Disney Plus is $6.99 a month.

Doesn’t support 4K. Those who use devices which support HDR, or High Dynamic Resolution, plus 4K, will not be able to use this feature with HBO Now.

Technical issues. Some users have complained online that they have sometimes experienced problems with logging into the site or app.

Genres and channels

The main types of content are series, movies, kids, comedy, sports, documentaries and collections. Navigation for all sections comprises a grid list which has an A-Z on the right hand side. Clicking on a letter will take the user to all series beginning with this letter.

Under series, these are further divided into All, Latino, International and Family.

Movies are divided into Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Horror/Sci-Fi, Latino, Romance and Suspense.

With the Kids section, there is a clear focus on Sesame Street, as this is one of the sub genres – along with Series and Movies. Under comedy, the categories are Movies and Digital.

The sports section does not have any sub genres and is more lightly populated. However, there are interesting titles such as 24/7 College Football, Diego Maradona, The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti and On Freddie Roach.

Documentaries follow a similar setup to sports in that there are no sub genres and a lighter offering. However, titles include Abortion: Stories Women Tell, The Diplomat and Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. Some of the sports documentaries cross over into this section.

Top HBO Now shows and movies

The Wire – Discover the narcotics scene in Baltimore from the perspective of both law enforcers and drug dealers, as well as users, in this drama series. Take a look at the government, schools, news media and bureaucracy too.

Game of Thrones – Watch George R.R.Martin’s bestselling book series A Song of Ice and Fire play out on the screen as two families engage in a brutal game for control of the Iron Throne, plus the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

The Leftovers – 140 million people disappear, and there is no clue as to where they have gone, or any trace of them left. Three years on, those living in Mapleton, NY, try to live out their lives despite the catastrophic loss.

The Young Pope – A media strategy put in place by the College of Cardinals sees Pius XIII elected as the first American Pope in history. His reign is unusual and contradictory, as he resists Vatican stewards and has no interest in making himself known to his people.

Deadwood – This American Western series aired on HBO between 2004 and 2006, and is set in Deadwood, South Dakota, during the 1870s. It explores life before and after the location’s annexation by the Dakota Territory, examining its development to a town from a camp.

Inception – Dom Cobb is a thief who has the ability to go into people’s dreams and steal their secrets. He is therefore popular when it comes to corporate espionage, but he’s also lost everything he loves. However, he gets a chance to redeem himself when he is offered the task of planting an idea into a person’s mind.

Crazy Rich Asians – Rachel Chu attends her boyfriend’s best friend’s wedding in Singapore, and discovers that her partner’s family is incredibly wealthy. What’s more, he’s considered to be one of the country’s most eligible bachelors, and Rachel now has to deal with jealous socialites, her boyfriend’s relatives and his disapproving mother.

The Bourne Identity – A man is discovered, almost dead, in the ocean near an Italian fishing boat. Once he has restored his health, it’s clear he remembers nothing about who he is or where he came from. However, he has many unusual talents in areas such as fighting, self-defense and language skills.

Deadpool 2 – Deadpool is a mercenary who encounters an angry teenage mutant called Russell who lives at an orphanage. Russell is targeted by a genetically enhanced soldier from the future called Cable, and Deadpool comes to the realisation he will need to help save Russell with the aid of Bedlam, Domino, Shatterstar and other powerful mutants.

The Hangover – Doug and his three friends travel to Vegas two days before his wedding so they can have a wild stag party. But when the friends wake up the next morning, they realise that they can’t remember anything – and Doug is missing.

Streaming library

HBO Now has made it easier for subscribers to browse a set selection of content by creating its Collections. These are:

  • Obsession-Worthy Drama Series
  • Must-Watch Comedy Series
  • Just-Added Movies
  • Last Chance: Movies Leaving This Month
  • Stay In With The Family
  • TV on Your To-Do List
  • What to Watch After Westworld
  • Comfort Viewing
  • Based on a Book
  • Get Your Sports Fix
  • Bad Trips
  • Raunchy Comedies
  • Step Into Another World
  • Animal Adventures
  • Sesame Street: Celebrations
  • Sesame Street: Asian Pacific American Month
  • Sesame Street: Problem Solving
  • Sesame Street: Best Spoofs
  • Sesame Street: The Best of Cookie Monster
  • Sesame Street: Discover Elmo’s World
  • Sesame Street: Best Celebrity Guests
  • Sesame Street: Guest Stars Who’ll Make You Sing

It’s clear that these collections have been designed with streaming habits in mind. For example, titles such as Detective Pikachu and School of Rock have been highlighted as perfect for nights in with family members. Meanwhile, series like The Sopranos and Euphoria have been highlighted as shows that HBO Now knows users keep meaning to get around to watching.

Arguably the best part of HBO Now’s user interface is its Collections feature. This is because many have suggested they struggle with the A-Z setup of the other sections on the site, such as Series and Documentaries. In comparison to streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, it has some catching up to do. This is because Netflix will highlight row-based category sub headings such as Popular on Netflix, Top 10 in the US Today, Reality TV, Saturn Award Nominees and more.

By breaking down content into an A-Z grid list, users will usually need to know what movie or show they want to watch before skipping down to the letter it begins with. That said, there is a feature at the top of each category page which highlights selected titles on a slider. The sub genres help, but many would like a more in-depth and intuitive user interface.

Streaming quality

At the time of writing, HBO Now writes in its help center that the platform does not currently support HDR or 4K video. They say that they are exploring the resources to support these resolutions in the future.

The highest resolution supported with HBO Now is 1080p, and the site notes that those who have a higher video resolution supported may experience their videos either being clipped off or not playing full screen.

To play videos with 1080p – also known as HD – resolution, an internet connection of 5Mbps or above is generally recommended.

Customer support

There is a Help Center available for HBO Now subscribers to navigate if they encounter any issues. This comprises a searchable database full of the most commonly asked questions. The latest information on device support can be found here, plus categories such as Getting Started, Watching Shows, Profile & Subscription and Troubleshooting.

The ways to get in touch with HBO Now directly are live chat, call, email or Twitter. Users can select a topic which applies to them and be recommended the best mode of contact for their query.

Free trial

If you’re a new HBO Now customer, you can enjoy 7 days of free streaming before signing up for the monthly package, which costs $14.99. To start your subscription, you need to have a payment method filed with HBO Now in order to allow the billing cycle to begin once the trial period is over. If you want to cancel your subscription and not make any payments, you must do so at least 24 hours before the free trial ends. Once your subscription begins, you will be charged each month until you cancel the service. You can view your billing details at any time, including finding out when your subscription will renew. You may be eligible for a free trial if you use a gift card as a new customer. In this scenario, you would need to renew your subscription with a payment card once your gift card subscription has expired.

Plans and pricing

The monthly cost for HBO Now is $14.99. This can be seen as expensive for those who have more than one streaming subscription, as others can be much cheaper. For example, Disney Plus is $6.99 a month. That said, the price is almost identical to the higher end plan on Netflix.

Competitors

HBO Now has many competitors out there, with the most notable and well known including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime TV. These services all provide a unique on demand service, with many Americans subscribing to multiple providers in order to gain a diverse range of movies, shows and original content. However, HBO Now will always have a unique selling point in that they provide content not available on other video on demand services, due to their programming following their original schedule. For example, Game of Thrones is most easily found on HBO Now, along with other popular content produced by the network.

Is HBO NOW worth it?

HBO Now is a competitively priced service with a range of content options for customers to enjoy. Whether it’s movies, TV or original content, there is plenty to choose from with a subscription from this provider. The free trial allows you to try out what’s on offer before making a solid decision about committing to the service. Due to this platform being aimed at cord cutters, you can also cancel the subscription whenever you like. Overall, HBO Now is a good choice for those who enjoy streaming and watching content from this network.

FAQ

How to cancel my HBO Now subscription

On the app

  1. Load up the HBO Now app on your phone or tablet and log in.
  2. Tap the menu button, which is located in the top left hand corner.
  3. Go to Settings, then Billing information.
  4. If you are billed through HBO, switch the auto-renew toggle to Auto-Renew Off and then confirm you want to make the change. Your subscription is now cancelled.
  5. If you are billed through another provider, such as the Amazon Appstore, Google Play or Hulu, follow the instructions on the corresponding website to complete the cancellation process.

On desktop

  1. Sign into the HBO Now site, if you aren’t already.
  2. Go to the Settings tab, which is located in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  3. Select Billing Information to view these details.
  4. If you use HBO as your billing provider, change the toggle to turn off the auto-renew function.
  5. Confirm that this change is a definite decision from you, and your subscription will therefore be cancelled.
  6. If you use a different provider, navigate to the relevant website and complete the steps as instructed to activate your subscription cancellation.
How to login to my HBO Now account

  1. Navigate to the HBO Now site or the HBO Now app.
  2. Tap on the Profile icon.
  3. Alternatively, click on the Sign In link.
  4. Enter your email address.
  5. Enter your password.
  6. Click on Sign In.
  7. Start watching!
How to delete my watch history on HBO Now

This function does not appear to be available at present.

How to restart my HBO Now subscription later


You can sign back into your account after cancelling it at any time and commence a new subscription plan. Depending on how long you have been away, watch data and other details may not be retained.

How to get a refund on HBO Now?

HBO Now will not provide refunds on subscriptions which have been purchased. Instead, customers can cancel their existing subscription and it will stop being billed when the next billing cycle is due.

Are there any good alternatives to HBO Now?

HBO Go is another way to access HBO content, as is newer streaming service HBO Max. For more general streaming content which isn’t associated with HBO, you can try platforms such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and Amazon Prime Video.

Can I use my HBO Now account in another country?

HBO Now can only be used in the United States and selected US territories, so those who try to stream content outside of these locations will be unable to do so.

How to sign up to HBO Now
  1. Navigate to the HBO Now website and click on ‘Start your free trial’.
  2. You will be taken to a new tab where you can create your account. If you already have an account, you can simply sign in.
  3. Enter your email address and create a password. This must be at least eight characters in length, and include either a number or a special character.
  4. Enter your first and last names, followed by your zip code.
  5. Accept the terms and conditions, then click through.
  6. In the second and final step, enter your payment details. After the free 7 day trial, you will be charged $14.99 a month.
  7. Click on ‘Start subscription’ and begin watching your favorite HBO content.

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