HBO shuffles its online portfolio

We all knew it was going to happen. It doesn’t take an expert. Over the weekend, AT&T announced that it would be changing its app structure. The new structure makes quite a bit more sense, although I suspect it won’t be the final change that they make.

HBO GO… it’s time to… uh, go

The first step here is the eventual elimination of HBO GO. HBO GO was the company’s first streaming product, and paved the way for all the others to come. About a decade ago when people were just turning on to streaming, HBO GO and other “companion” apps were designed to give existing subscribers access to on demand content. Disney/ABC really led this charge, driven by their ability to offer their own ads on their streaming platforms. However, it soon became obvious that people really liked having the option.

HBO GO was eventually “cloned” into the nearly identical HBO NOW, which was available for people without a cable or satellite subscription. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

HBO GO will eventually fade away, replaced by HBO Max. Today, if you have a subscription to HBO on most platforms, you can log into HBO Max for free. However, HBO Max is still not available on all hardware platforms, while HBO GO is. So, I suspect the timing of HBO GO’s demise will really depend on when you can get HBO Max on the streaming device of your choice.

HBO NOW is, uh, now HBO

HBO NOW launched about five years ago as an identical twin sister to HBO GO. The only difference was payment authentication. You could sign up for HBO NOW for a separate fee, rather than paying your cable or satellite company. A lot of cord-cutters jumped on this option, especially in the heyday of Game of Thrones. 

HBO NOW isn’t going away, but it will be rebranded as just “HBO.” It’s not clear exactly who this option serves in the long term, but it will allow customers with unsupported streaming devices to keep using their subscriptions.

Future moves

It doesn’t take a marketing whiz to realize where this is all going. When HBO Max is available on all current streaming platforms, HBO NOW will completely disappear and this will all make a lot more sense. I expect that soon enough, HBO Max will be the only streaming HBO product and I think that’s as it should be.

The media made a lot of this move, just as they made a lot of the fact that HBO GO, HBO NOW, and HBO Max all existed at the same time. I personally don’t understand what all the fuss is about. If your device and your subscription supports HBO Max, it’s the one you should use, period. There’s no difference in price. If you were using HBO GO then HBO Max is free. If you were paying for HBO NOW then you’ll pay the same for HBO Max and get a lot more content. I don’t see why that’s so hard to understand.

The older apps are there so that customers with popular streaming platforms aren’t completely iced out. I do expect that AT&T will reach an agreement with the remaining streaming companies fairly soon and this will be less of an issue.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.