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Free HBO Shows Are Coming to Roku and Tubi Soon (With a Catch)

Some of the shows, like Westworld, aren't on HBO Max anymore. But on Roku and Tubi, you probably won't be able to watch them when you want.

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Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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Westworld previously streamed on HBO Max, but it was removed from the service last month. 

Warner Bros. Discovery

Free streaming services Tubi and The Roku Channel will both start streaming HBO shows with no subscription required, under new deals announced Tuesday with the premium cable network's parent, Warner Bros. Discovery. 

HBO shows like Westworld, The Nevers and Raised by Wolves were pulled off HBO Max last month, a precursor to Warner Bros. Discovery's plan to license them out to free, ad-supported service like Tubi and Roku. 

But even though these shows and others will be free to stream with advertising through The Roku Channel and Tubi, your flexibility to enjoy them -- like picking which episode to watch and when -- isn't likely to follow too. 

Tubi, for example, said that it would stream Westworld, The Nevers, Raised by Wolves and other HBO shows on a new "channel," which (like old-school TV) doesn't let you pick specific episodes, skip or rewind. Tubi didn't specify whether those shows would be part of its on-demand library. 

Roku also said that shows like Westworld would be on its own curated channels, and it didn't detail which titles would be added to its catalog of on-demand titles. 

This whiplash for some HBO shows is a repercussion of Discovery and WarnerMedia's $43 billion megamerger in April. The deal united Hollywood powerhouse WarnerMedia -- home to streaming service HBO Max, the Warner Bros. movie studio and TV channels like HBO, CNN and TBS -- with Discovery, known for reality shows and unscripted programming on its cable networks and streaming service Discovery Plus.

Now, with a mountain of debt and Discovery's famously frugal CEO, David Zaslav, as its leader, Warner Bros. Discovery has been canceled a laundry list of HBO Max shows and movies, including a nearly complete Batgirl film that reportedly cost $90 million. Removing shows like Westworld to license the out to Tubi and The Roku Channel is another move to eke out more value from the company's assets, even if it makes things more confusing for people like you to find HBO shows online. 

The deals span more than just HBO programming, though. Starting this spring, The Roku Channel will add channels playing other programming from Warner Bros. Discovery like The Bachelor, Cake Boss, Say Yes to the Dress and FBoy Island, and it will have 2,000 hours of shows and movies added to its on-demand selections from HBO, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network and Warner Bros. Pictures, among others.

On Tubi, new channels will get shows like Legendary, FBoy Island, Finding Magic Mike and The Time Traveler's Wife, in addition to the shows like Westworld. Some of its new channels will have programming that is also available on demand, like Cake Boss, My Cat from Hell, Breaking Amish, Paranormal Lockdown, My Five Wives and some seasons of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Tubi will begin rolling out the new programming starting Wednesday.