Remember when watching HBO meant sitting awkwardly next to your parents, waiting out sex scenes that seemed to go on for an eternity? Yeah, me neither, because today the premium cable TV subscription service we know and love offers streaming options so that everyone and their mom can watch their favorite characters get busy from Brooklyn to Westeros on their phones and laptops—far away from each other.
Whether it was some rare corporate self-awareness or an effort to maintain relevance with competition from surging streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, the debut of HBO Go in 2010 took the world of viewers who wanted to watch Girls, but didn’t have cable in their dorm rooms, by storm. If your parents had cable HBO at home and were willing to share a coveted HBO Go password, they became anonymous heroes who couldn’t have known their credentials would be shared by a dozen other content-hungry millennials around the country, binge-watching old episodes of The Sopranos and Sex and the City. But account sharing doesn’t generate revenue for HBO (and, it’s worth noting, can also earn offenders a misdemeanor—so be careful out there).
With more people cutting the cable cord every year in favor of more streamlined and less expensive online content services, HBO released its second streaming option in 2015—HBO Now. HBO Now has all of those same great shows, movies, and solo watching perks of HBO Go, without the prerequisite of a full cable subscription. Two streaming services, both alike in dignity (and content), but which, you may ask, actually reigns supreme? HBO Go and HBO Now are pretty similar, but there are some key differences between them that make each service unique. Here’s what you need to know to decide which is right for you in the battle of HBO Now vs. HBO Go.