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HBO Now explained: Everything we know, and a few things we don't

Jared Newman | April 13, 2015
HBO’s standalone streaming video service arrived on Apple devices and web browsers this week, but a few mysteries remain.

There's no live feed, but new shows are in real time
The only thing you don't get with HBO Now is access to the live feed from the proper TV channel. Original series will still land on HBO Now as soon as they air in TV--you'll be able to tune into Game of Thrones on Sunday night at 9 p.m. just like everyone else--but some programming, such as live boxing broadcasts, will show up with a delay.

HBO still won't bust you for a little sharing
Password sharing was a common practice when HBO Go was the only option, and HBO was surprisingly relaxed about it. With HBO Now, the network says its policies will be similar: Feel free to share with members of your household, but be aware of "other tools of enforcement available to us" if people are sharing too much.

In concrete terms, Engadget reports that HBO Now users can activate as many devices as they want, though the number of simultaneous streams per account is capped at three. Sharing with people you trust probably won't be an issue.

You can totally binge-and-ditch
HBO Now is a monthly subscription with no long-term contracts, so there's nothing stopping you from dropping your subscription during programming lulls, and starting it back up when your favorite shows return.

The process is a bit convoluted, however, because you can't unsubscribe through HBO's apps or website. Instead, you have to manage your subscription from the provider you signed up with. If you signed up through iTunes, you must go to the App Store, open the Featured section, scroll to the bottom, press "Apple ID," press "View Apple ID," and then press "Manage" under the Subscriptions section. From here, you can see your HBO Now subscription and turn auto-renewal on or off.

It's not the only cable-free way to watch HBO
Another option for watching the latest HBO shows without a cable TV subscription is through Sling TV. For $20 per month, Sling TV offers 20 live cable channels, including ESPN, AMC, and the Food Network. HBO is a $15 per-month add-on, and provides both the live channel feed and a library of on-demand programming. HBO be available on Sling TV starting this Saturday.

What we still don't know

  • We don't know which other non-pay TV providers (Google? Amazon? Microsoft Xbox?) will sell HBO Now after Apple's exclusivity ends.
  • HBO has hinted at flexible pricing for HBO Now, but we don't know who will offer it cheaper or under what conditions.
  • We don't know the timing of HBO Now apps for other devices, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, or PlayStation.
  • We don't know why there's an "available until" date next to every piece of HBO Now content, including original series. These series never seem to expire on HBO Go, so it's a bit unnerving.

 

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