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HBO is a major player in the cord-cutting revolution, but it's one with a very complicated role. It wasn't so long ago that HBO was part of the reason to keep cable: the premium channel was available only to legacy pay-TV subscribers. But as a premium channel, HBO never had quite the same kind of relationship with the cable and satellite giants as, say, ESPN did – and that made it well-positioned to pioneer new ways of bringing its content to viewers. It wasn't just viewers who wanted to know how to watch HBO without cable: HBO itself was interested in meeting its fans in a more direct way. These days, HBO has its own stand-alone streaming service, HBO Max.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream HBO:

  Price Channels Free Trial  
$69.99 – $139.99 65+ None

See Offer

$5.99 – $85.96 68 – 88 7 or 30 days

See Offer

How to Watch HBO Without Cable

An HBO livestream is easy to come by, but you may want to spend a little time deciding how you're going to get yours – because there are a lot of different options.

First up are the skinny bundles – the live TV streaming services that are challenging cable and satellite. These guys offer slimmed-down cable-like bundles of live network television channels, and they let you stream those live channels on all kinds of devices. Many skinny bundles allow you to tack on premium channel subscriptions for an extra fee each month.

And, of course, HBO has its own streaming service: HBO Max. There are also streaming services called HBO GO and HBO NOW. We’ll talk more about those later on, but for now, you should know that HBO Max is the streaming service that’s getting most of HBO’s time and attention.

Let’s get to the list so you can find out how to watch HBO without cable!

Stream HBO with DIRECTV Stream

Watch HBO

HBO Max is available through an add-on with any DIRECTV Stream package. If you'd like to know more about how it works, our DIRECTV Stream review offers answers.

Stream HBO with Hulu

Free Trial

Hulu + Live TV wants you to be happy, which is why it makes HBO Max available as an add-on to its live streaming service. If you don’t want the live streaming service, you can add HBO Max to your basic Hulu streaming service. When we say “basic,” we mean the on-demand streaming service that’s comparable to Netflix. You can learn more about the differences between Hulu and Hulu + Live TV by checking out our page on that very topic.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is the skinny bundle brought to you by the folks over at Google. It’s got a lot of channels to offer, and one of those channels is HBO. You’ll have to pay to add it on, of course, but once you do, you’ll immediately be able to start streaming HBO online. Our YouTube TV review can give you more info on this option.


HBO Max arrived on the scene in 2020, right in the middle of a global pandemic that was already changing the way we watch movies. After all, it’s hard to watch a movie if the theater isn’t even open. HBO Max made more headlines when it announced it would stream every 2021 Warner Bros. movie on its theatrical release date. So getting HBO Max means you can get all the regular goodies you’d find on HBO, plus movies that you’d normally have to visit a theater to see. There are also other HBO Max exclusives that you won’t find on the traditional HBO channel, like the murder mystery “The Flight Attendant” and dark comedy “Made for Love.” Want to know more? Check out our HBO Max review.

Can I Watch HBO on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast?

Big-budget TV that you’ll find on HBO belongs on big-screen TVs! So yes, HBO is available on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. But those are not the only devices you can use to stream it. The chart below will tell you which services work with which streaming devices in your quest to watch HBO without cable.

Roku Fire TV Apple TV Android TV Chromecast iOS Android Web/
DIRECTV Stream Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hulu Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Youtube TV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

While HBO Max is not on the chart, it is available to watch on numerous devices, including all the ones listed above.

What’s With All these HBOs, Anyway?

“Go Now, Max” sounds like a children’s book you’d find at your local library; instead, it’s the name of all three HBO streaming services smashed together. Yes, there’s HBO GO, HBO NOW, and HBO Max. Why are there so many HBOs, anyway?

If you’re confused by the branding, you’re not alone. HBO NOW is an older version of HBO Max, but it’s not as high-powered. But if you wanted to watch HBO without cable, it was your best option for a while. It’s still around, although the company wants customers to move over to HBO Max.

What about HBO GO? It’s only for existing subscribers. You’ll need to sign in using credentials from an HBO subscription that you already have. There’s no way to sign up for it separately like you can with HBO Max and HBO NOW.

So, to recap: HBO Max is like HBO NOW 2.0, just bigger and better. HBO GO is only for people who are already paying for the channel some other way.

More to Watch for Fans of HBO

So, you’ve done it: You’ve figured out how to watch HBO without cable. We’d congratulate you, but instead of doing that, we’re going to dish out a few more recommendations instead. These are channels that definitely share some similarities with HBO, but each one has its own brand and, of course, its own unique lineup of programming.

We’ll start with Cinemax, which is actually a sister station to HBO. It’s not as flashy, but it’s still got a solid lineup of programming. While HBO does a little of everything, Cinemax is a place to find action and drama shows like “Trackers,” “Hunted,” and “The Knick.” To find out more about getting this channel, head on over to our guide to watching Cinemax without cable.

For our second recommendation, we move outside the world of HBO and AT&T and into the world of Showtime and CBS. Yes, CBS owns Showtime; that’s why Stephen Colbert did those election night specials on Showtime instead of on CBS. Showtime built its reputation on originals like “Weeds” and “Dexter,” and it continues to bolster that reputation with shows like “Shameless” and, well, a Dexter limited series. But hey, viewers like reboots, so there’s nothing wrong with that. Our How to Watch Showtime Without Cable page can tell you more about snagging Showtime and catching up on whatever Dexter’s been doing since that whole lumberjack phase.

Finally, we should mention STARZ as a channel you might like if you’re already a fan of HBO. More than 20 years ago, STARZ ran a commercial that concluded with the tagline, “When I want movies, I want to see STARZ!” STARZ still has plenty of movies, but it also has original television shows too. The most well-known of those is probably “Outlander,” a show about a time-traveling nurse involved in a love triangle. So maybe STARZ’s new tagline should be “When I want to see hot guys with Scottish accents, I want to see STARZ!” For more on Starz and its offerings, go to our How to Watch STARZ Without Cable page.

2 thoughts on “How to Watch HBO Without Cable

  1. James Prokop says:

    Ok. I have Chromecast & Netflix as well as Dish TV. Dish no longer carries HBO. Big fan of RealTime Live on HBO. How can I watch it and specifically how do I set it up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have Frontier. They say they cannot provide me with HBOMAX even though I have been an HBO subscriber for years. Why does HBO make this so difficult??Just because I do not have a so called SMART tv.

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