The acronym HBO hides the words Home Box Office. The paid cable network, owned by WarnerMedia Entertainment, is the oldest service offering viewers content (including premium) by subscription. Founded in November 1972, HBO had 140 million members worldwide by 2018. It was also the first channel in America, which broadcasted content via satellite.
Now it has three branches:
- HBO Go is an online live streaming service that offers original HBO content. It is available to HBO Max subscribers, but with lacks of some original content. This platform is an online alternative for those who connected to HBO cable TV.
- HBO Now is a standalone online service offering users the same library as HBO Go. However, there is no additional content from Max Originals or WarnerMedia in its catalog.
- HBO Max is similar in features to Netflix and Disney Plus. It has content that was previously available to HBO Go and HBO Now subscribers, new content from Max Originals, and classics from the WarnerMedia archive such as Friends and South Park. HBO Max launched on May 27, 2020. This service is accessible only in the U.S., so the rest of the world uses a VPN to watch its favorite shows.
What’s the difference between HBO Max, Netflix, and Disney+?
We already know, that HBO is a television company, and HBO Max is an online cinema. What about other services? Is there a fundamental difference?
Netflix is known for its originals. The streaming company releases hundreds of self-produced films and series every year. Interestingly, new series are released not by one episode in a week (like on HBO), but by the whole season at once (normally, on the same day worldwide in different languages). The service is available in many countries around the world.
Disney Plus offers fewer originals than HBO. You have, probably, seen 80% of its library 100 times. Although Disney+ monthly subscription costs two tomes lower than HBO Max, it could barely meet expectations of those who are crazy about thrillers, horrors, and dramas. However, the service would be interesting for families with kids and Marvel or Star Wars fans.
The American Netflix catalog has 395 self-produced TV shows — far more than any other SVOD platform. HBO Go has 104 original series. But in relation to the general content HBO has the largest proportion of original production. Top HBO shows are older than Netflix’s ones. HBO began filming its own content in 2013 (‘House of Cards’ was the first).
Most popular HBO series
HBO was one of the first channels which completely changed the approach to TV series, and it still at the top, even with such serious competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and many others. For almost half a century of work, the television giant has created a huge number of projects that have raised from popular to classic and even cult. Here are the most popular ones:
Game of Thrones
The HBO bestseller, breaking every viewing records, finally came to an end after 8 long years, leaving its fans to miss Westeros. Despite a crumpled final season that provoked millions of online disputes, Game of Thrones will forever remain a revolutionary project that transformed fantasy from a teenage fairytale into a respectable drama genre. In addition, until now, no TV series can boast of so many passions, intrigues, and deaths.
The mini-series in five episodes tells the heartbreaking story of the man-made catastrophe at the Chernobyl NPP, the largest in history. Craig Mazin’s project began to be praised after the release of the first series — critics noted the highest level of drama, an accurate recreation of the late Soviet era (the series was filmed in Ukraine and partly in Lithuania), and an excellent cast of actors. To answer many questions about the causes and consequences of that terrible accident, Mazin studied thousands of documents, archival photographs, and interviews. The result is an extremely realistic, shocking, hours-long project that keeps you in suspense even after watching.
A sitcom about computer geeks who are trying to promote their startup, developed literally in the garage, is gaining momentum. Fans of The Big Bang Theory, who are saddened by the fact that project has turned from a geek show into a romantic series, may fully estimate The Valley — its characters are too busy with technology and capital gain to think about romance. Eccentric billionaires, autistic programmers, rampant hangouts, and weird cars on the screen are so addictive that it will be impossible to come off.
Sex and the city
Created and premiered at the turn of the millennium, HBO’s leading show has become an encyclopedia of American personal life. This story become a legend about four friends of middle age who spend all their free time talking about success in love. Great humor, bright fashion, and piquant themes — these are the main distinguishing features of the series. Viewers for six seasons sincerely empathize with the heroine of Sarah Jessica Parker and company. And for male viewers, these episodes help understand the mysterious and paradoxical world of women’s problems.
Best VPNs for streaming HBO Max
When picking a VPN for streaming, you need to consider options such as speed, type of VPN connection protocol, a large number of servers worldwide, and ease of use. More information about all VPN features and uses of a VPN you can find in the article What Is a VPN?
Ivacy VPN has a special tab in the main menu where you can select the streaming platform to watch. HBO is one of the top choices, and unlocking it is the advertised feature of this provider. Ivacy shows a problem-free connection, good speed and no lags when viewing. If the ISP controls and slows down the Internet, this VPN will help stabilize and speed it up without losing streaming quality.
NordVPN has built-in SmartPlay function that grants you securely access to the content which is not available in your country. SmartPlay utilizes the best of VPN and Smart DNS technologies. You don’t need to configure, update or activate anything, connect to an appropriate NordVPN server (in the case of HBO, to the American one) and start browsing.
CyberGhost owns over 6100 VPN servers in over 90 countries. The service features high connection speed and unlimited bandwidth. You get streaming in good quality and with no buffering. To give you access to the HBO library, this service not only hides your IP address, but replaces it with a US address from its own network. One subscription allows you to use this viewing method on 7 devices at a time.
Surfshark makes HBO think that you’re in the U.S. while you are accessing it, for example, from Europe. Apart from fast streaming servers, this VPN has another major advantage – you can stream on an unlimited number of devices. Surfshark can be used on iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, FireTV, Apple TV, and other smart TVs.
ExpressVPN has no limits for streaming connection, quality or speed. Once you install it, you are free to choose any of 160 VPN locations worldwide, and enjoy full HD streaming of HBO Now, HBO Go or HBO Max. Since ExpressVPN app for Windows and Mac has a Speed Test function, you can quickly check the latency and download speed of each server. To watch HBO in the best quality, just choose the point with the highest speed.
To access HBO outside the U.S., you’d better rely on tested solutions. It is not enough to switch to some server in the U.S. You also need to bypass geo restrictions and anti-VPN blockages. Not many VPNs are capable of doing this. Fortunately, now you have the list above to watch your favorite HBO movies and TV shows wherever you are.