In case you haven't heard, a little show called "Game of Thrones" is about to kick off a new season this weekend, along with "Silicon Valley" and "Veep."
Just one problem: Only HBO subscribers can enjoy them. So that means you have to call your cable company and add the network to your TV package, right?
Wrong! You can enjoy on-demand HBO thanks to HBO Now, an a la carte service that's available on a month-to-month basis. Translation: Come for the new seasons, pull the plug when they're done; save up for next April. Here's everything you need to know.
How much is HBO Now?
The service costs $14.99 per month, with no contracts or signup or termination fees. It's purely pay-as-you-go.
How do I sign up for HBO Now?
Curiously, HBO doesn't currently allow new users to register via a computer -- at least not in the traditional way. Instead, you need to install the app on select Amazon, Apple or Android devices and then sign up via that app. You can also add the HBO Now channel to your Roku device or purchase a subscription through Optimum or Verizon.
If this is your first time signing up, you can get a 30-day trial -- though you'll automatically get billed for the following month if you don't cancel within 29 days. If you were a subscriber already, you can easily restart your subscription via the same device you used originally.
How can I watch HBO Now?
As you may recall, HBO Now was an iOS-only service when it first debuted. Now, however, you can watch it on just about every modern device, including, but not limited to:
- Android phones, tablets
- Amazon Fire tablets (third-gen and new)
- Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick
- Apple TV
- iOS phones and tablets
- Roku boxes and sticks
- Select Samsung Smart TVs
- Xbox 360 and Xbox One
- Your computer
So whether you're at home or on the go, you should be able to watch HBO Now.
Can I use my HBO Now subscription on multiple devices?
Yep. According to HBO, your subscription "applies to your entire household." There is a limit on how many simultaneous streams, but the service's support pages don't specify the number.
In theory, you should have no trouble watching HBO Now on multiple devices simultaneously.
Can I share my HBO Now subscription with friends and family?
See that word up above: "household"? That's how HBO defines the parameters of a subscription, which would seem to limit it to everyone under a single roof.
Of course, as you may recall, Andy Samberg famously (and hilariously) shared his HBO Now username and password at last year's Emmy awards -- and lots and lots of people used it successfully (for a little while, at least).
So this is probably one of those don't-ask-don't-tell kind of situations. As long as you don't share your account with millions of TV viewers, HBO probably won't frown if you share it with, say, the kids away at college or your cash-strapped favorite uncle.
Can I save HBO Now shows for offline viewing?
Wow, now you're really trying to get me in trouble. Because although Amazon lets Prime subscribers download select TV shows and movies for offline viewing, HBO Now does not.
However, where there's a third party, there's a way: PlayOn Plus (formerly PlayLater) can record streams from just about any service, from Netflix to Hulu to -- you guessed it -- HBO Now.
But, wait, is that legal? Technically, using software like PlayOn violates the terms of at least some services (notably Netflix and Hulu). But this is one big gray area, made even grayer by the fact that PlayOn has been around for years. That wouldn't be the case if its users were routinely getting in trouble or the software was on the wrong side of any laws.
So, again, I'm not endorsing this product, merely letting you know it exists.