HBO GO passes 3 million downloads. Is it worth it?

This past weekend, HBO GO, the premium cable channel’s mobile streaming app, surpassed the 3 million download mark after less than two months on iTunes and the Android market, but the app’s features don’t make those numbers all that surprising. HBO GO allows current subscribers full access to its library of original programming. That includes older series, previously available only on pricey DVD collections, like Sex in the City, The Wire, and The Sopranos. But with the Hulus and the Netflixs of the world, can HBO GO bring anything new to the table?

The answer is simple: Yes. With Hulu Plus, you get a large number of complete series collections and select episodes from current network TV. Netflix thrives on older series that have ended and past seasons of current programming. Each serves a distinct purpose, but with some overlap. HBO GO provides something unique, namely HBO, which as everyone knows, isn’t TV. It’s HBO.

In all seriousness, HBO GO has a lot to offer. The Wire has seen a resurgence in recent years with some universities offering courses in the David Simon series. It completely passed me by when it aired originally from 2002 to 2008, and now I need a way to see the series so I can talk about Omar with people in the know. My options include buying the complete series on DVD, which retails for $200, and renting each individual episode from Amazon for $1.39 a pop. HBO GO gives subscribers what they essentially already paid for, free of charge.

On top of older shows, HBO GO features current water cooler favorites like Game of Thrones and True Blood. As an added incentive to download the app, subscribers can catch next Sunday’s episode of True Blood, nearly a week before it airs; the network made a similar offer for Game of Thrones.

The main drawback of HBO GO, however, is the “go” part. Currently, the app only works with mobile devices. HBOGO.com gives users access to the catalog through a computer, but there still isn’t an easy way to watch on a good, old-fashioned TV. I don’t know about you, but I want the broad swords on Game of Thrones actually to look broad. Both Hulu and Netflix offer several ways to deliver their videos to your set, but as HBO GO is still in its infancy, we may have to wait for the app to catch up. It is also worth noting that not all cable companies offer the service.

Ultimately, in the video streaming market, where companies compete with often similar content, HBO GO adds a ton of value to an HBO subscription. Seriously. If you have HBO and a smart phone, go download it now. You probably have some major catching up to do.

Read more:
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Comments (45 total) Add your comment
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  • Cheryl

    But will it ever be available to Time-Warner Cable customers????

    • bb

      I asked the same question!

    • Courtney

      Agreed!!

    • Trent

      I know, right? This is SO frustrating. TWC already has a wonderful iPad app for basic cable stations — why can’t they allow this?

    • nich

      Or Cablevision!

    • K8

      I am in the same boat with RCN, they’ve already said they do not have any plans to integrate this in the near future. I wish premium cable companies would offer web based subscriptions for their channels so I could cut out my cable provider. I’d rather just pay HBO directly.

  • hrocksana

    Awesome. I’m signing up.

  • Brenda

    It crashed momentarily last night because of the True Blood fans. But I have it (through Comcast) and I’m enjoying it.

  • Amy

    You can hook your Ipad/laptop to your TV w/ an HDMI cord. That’s how we watched the second ep of TrueBlood last night!

    • rebecca

      I just posted and saw your suggestion about the HDMI cord. Thanks!

  • rebecca

    I was like a kid in a candy store going to HBO GO. The temptation, the choices. Do I wait for next Sundays True Blood episode and make it a treat, or do I cave in and watch the episode in advance? I caved in, watched the episode on my computer, wished it had a clearer picture – and wished I could watch more new episodes. Now next Sunday wont be the same, I already know whats up! Plus I spent countless hours surfing other series: The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood…viewing random episodes. Too much fun, if I could only hook it up to my tv!

  • TPK

    I don’t understand the question “Is it worth it?”. The app is free.

    • ks

      The app is free, but not all carriers are available and it says you have to pay after the first six minutes. I am not able to get it where I live

      • AB

        You must be talking about the True Blood preview. It was just the first six minutes of the season, and was indeed available to the whole world – even non-HBO subscribers – free of charge. But obviously HBO isn’t giving away everything. HBO Go *is* free, however, to anyone who is already subscribing to the channel through their cable or satellite TV service.

  • Cygnus

    Or you can buy $200 dollars worth of HBO to view 6 years worth of eps in 10 months.

    So far, I think it’s completely worth it. Especially since you get bonus eps of series a week in advance of their normal airing, such as Game of Thrones and True Blood.
    The biggie is going to be when HBO decides to start changing by the ep or the month for HBOGO. Right now they’re luring millions into the ease and gimmick of having all of their shows and eps a click away, anywhere, anytime.

  • Russ

    Time Warner Cable are the worst providers of anything!

  • Jonathan

    The drawback is pretty gargantuan if you ask me. Give it to me on my television.

    • Melissa

      Isn’t that why you subscribe to HBO? To watch it on TV. Who can live w/o a DVR or On Demand these days? If you fork over the cash for an HBO subscription, you should upgrade to a DVR too.

      • jt

        No, not necessarily. I love it because I can take my laptop anywhere in the house. I sat outside the other night,plugged in amazing speakers and finished watching Game of Thrones-loved it!

  • JDean

    How does HBO verify you have HBO if you download this on your computer? If my friend has HBO and they give me their subscriber info, can I subscribe to HBO Go?

    • Abe Froman

      You sign up through your cable company.

    • jen

      i suppose you could, however I’ve noticed that you can’t be signed in on more then 1 device at a time. I tried to log onto my computer to watch without signing out of my ipad and it wouldn’t let me. So if your friend watches, you can’t watch unless they are logged out

  • Kate

    We dropped cable over a year ago and the only thing I miss is HBO. Hopefully they will use HBO GO as a way to offer a streaming subscription. Crossing my fingers!

    • Kim

      Yes – this is what I am waiting for. I don’t want to have to subscribe to cable to use it, which you have to right now. I want to just sign up for HBO, so I can watch the one or two shows I am interested in (Showtime, too, so I can watch Dexter). I don’t want to pay for all those other channels that I don’t care about, too.

  • Danielle

    I’m glad I’m with Cox so I can get HBO Go! It is the best entertainment app out there. It works on my 3G network a lot better than my Netflix app (which is still a really good app). Good job to the programmers of the HBOGO app.

  • SoeyGirl

    I have one big issue with the app on my iphone…as I was watching the 2nd episode of True Blood last night, the app wouldn’t save the spot I was watching if I recieved a text or a reminder. I would have to start the whole episode over each time there was an interuption. That’s sucked!

  • Alison Groves

    Hey HBO, quit it with these antiquated cable deals and offer this as your own $5-10 a month subscription. Who has cable anymore anyway? What is this, the 00’s?

  • Melissa

    Totally worth it. I don’t use it, but my boyfriend is catching up on all the good, old original series. BTW, DirecTV rules!!!

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