How To

How to make the most of your HBO subscription

HBO Now

It used to be that you needed a high-end and expensive premium cable subscription to be able to watch HBO’s TV shows such as The Sopranos, Westworld, Veep, and of course Game of Thrones. This has all changed now with HBO Go and the HBO Now app bringing the network’s award-winning shows into people’s living room via internet streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV; and even iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones too. Both of these services are pretty similar with the only real difference being how you get them. Go still requires a HBO subscription but Now works as a standalone app.

Beyond knowing the difference between the two new HBO apps there is a lot more you can learn that will help you get more out of your HBO subscription. The HBO streaming service now has features to match Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Let’s then, get into some HBO Now tips and tricks.

How to get more from HBO Now

Share your account

HBO Now home screen

If you find that you enjoy shows more when you get to discuss them further with other people, you’ll be glad to hear that HBO’s official policy allows you to share your account with other users. What HBO actually says is that it is fine to share your login details with members of the same household. Household is ambiguous enough to not actually mean anything and certainly isn’t something HBO could actively try to police. Share your details and then get into your favorite shows together. Just don’t push it with all sorts of simultaneous streaming.

Protect your mobile data allowance

It is a fact of modern life that most people don’t have enough mobile data on their monthly plan to see out the month. Streaming audio puts a huge strain on our data allowance, but streaming video takes it to the next level.

The bad news here is that HBO Now doesn’t offer an official download feature like you find on Netflix. The only official way to watch HBO content is to stream it. This means that the only way to save mobile data allowance is to limit streaming when you’ve connected to your mobile network. To do this go to the app Settings and then choose the Video Playback option. Here you’ll find three options. WiFi Only will limit your streaming to when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, Cellular Playback Warning will tell you you’re about to watch a video using a network connection and Continue Watching  will allow you to stream videos no matter what.

Parental controls

One of the big things that HBO likes to celebrate is the network’s ability to produce and show R-rated material. A brief glance at HBO’s back catalog will show up foul-mouthed and psychopathic mob bosses, occult influenced serial killers, and a lot of nudity. Even shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver revel in the use of totally unnecessary curse words.

The sopranos on hbo now
Do you want your kids watching The Sopranos?

With all of the above being the case then, you might want to limit the content your kids can access when they’re using your HBO Now subscription. Fortunately, HBO gets this too and has included a Kids Lock feature in the app to keep inappropriate content hidden away from your kids. To enable the Kids Lock you need to open the hamburger menu icon (three vertical lines), which you’ll find in the top-left corner of the app. You then need to hit the Kids option and hit the lock icon at the top of the screen. You then enter or create your password and pass your smartphone or tablet to your kid. To disable the lock just hit the lock icon again and reenter your password.

Control HBO with your voice

As well as content streaming services the last few years have also brought another rather intriguing innovation, voice assistants. Voice assistants use advanced voice recognition technology and allow you to connect different devices to your network so that you can control them with your voice too. If you’ve an Amazon Alexa or a Google Assistant at home, you can hook up your HBO Now subscription your speaker and start telling your TV what HBO shows you want to watch at any given moment. You can find instructions on how to link a Google Assistant to your HBO Now account here and  how to link Amazon Alexa here.

Know what’s available to watch

Streaming services have added a new dimension to watching movies and shows. We can now watch our shows when we want to and no longer have to wait for them to air on TV. This is true, but only to a certain extent. Netflix is famous for adding and removing shows and movies from its service quite regularly and HBO Now is the same. Not all HBO content is available all the time. This means you might not be able to watch that HBO show next time you log in.

The Wire on HBO Now
Is critically acclaimed The Wire available on HBO Now?

To keep on top of the content available on HBO at any given time you can track HBO’s own website, which will tell you what new shows are coming to the service and which old ones are leaving.

Get personal recommendations

Another good site for tracking content across multiple streaming services is Just Watch. As well as keeping you appraised of what content is currently available on HBO Now, Just Watch will learn from your viewing choices and then give you some personal recommendations about new shows it thinks you’ll like.

You can access Just Watch via the web or via their mobile apps. Click below to download the version you need:

JustWatch for Android Download nov
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JustWatch for iOS Download nov
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In a world where we have total access to so much content all the time, recommendations you can rely on are like gold dust.

Wrapping up

So, there you have some tips to help you get more from your HBO subscription. The HBO streaming apps aren’t as sophisticated as Netflix and offer limited functionality compared to the streaming giant. Not being able to download content for later viewing is the biggest missing feature in our opinion. We hope that sooner rather than later, HBO will work on introducing the feature to its app.

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