For those who don’t have HBO, it’s officially the season of spoilers. Everywhere you go on the Internet, clues to the fate of Jon Snow abound. But for some of us, the price of a premium cable subscription is too steep to satisfy our curiosity about the destiny of Game of Thrones’ characters. Cord cutters are dodging the spoilers on social media and waiting it out until the sixth season hits DVD or Netflix. Is there a better (translation: cheaper) way to catch the HBO programming you’ve been missing? Maybe we could get on that before the Queen of Dragons takes over Westeros and burns everything to the ground.
If you’re not one of the eleven million viewers who watched the Game of Thrones premier but you’d like to be, there are some fairly affordable options to bring HBO home. Let’s look at each of them along with a price point breakdown to determine which is the best fit for your budget. Because unless you’re a Lannister, you don’t have the riches of the Seven Kingdoms at your disposal.
In the last year, HBO has branched out beyond cable to offer add-on subscriptions and streaming services that enable their programming to reach more viewers than ever before. Take a look to see if one of these affordable options might be the perfect way to scale the Wall and bring HBO to your castle.
A la carte HBO
HBO GO and HBO NOW are two completely different services, and we need to get them straight before continuing. HBO GO is the mobile app for those who already subscribe to HBO and want to stream programming to their mobile devices and ROKU or TiVo. HBO NOW is the standalone streaming service that delivers all the current programming for a monthly fee.
HBO NOW does not involve a contract. It provides access to both new content and the entire catalog of previous HBO programming. It’s fairly affordable if you look at the monthly fee, but there’s a hidden cost. To stream HBO, you’ll need a reliable, speedy internet provider. The New America Foundation indicates the average price for 15–20 Mbps internet speed, which is the minimum you’ll need to stream HD, is $41.95. If you’re just looking to add HBO and already have high speed Internet access, this will be the cheapest option but not necessarily the best value.
Advantages: No contract, affordable monthly fee.
Disadvantages: No access to other channels. Requires reliable, high speed internet connection.
Cost: $15 HBO NOW + $41.95 internet service fee = $56.95 per month
Many cable television providers allow customers to add HBO onto packages a la carte. And some also extend no contract options and offers that include the first three months of premium channels for free. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of what the major providers charge for basic cable television packages along with the fee to add HBO. The fee is standard across most providers ($15) and mirrors what you would pay for HBO NOW without a cable TV subscription.
Be warned that many of these offers involve promotional pricing, which will increase when the offer period expires. For customers looking to have a handful of other channels along with HBO, adding on to a Cable TV basic package may present the best value. To find out which providers cover your area, enter your zip code here.
- Verizon fios: $14.99 HBO, $64.99 Custom TV package. 12-month contract. $79.98
- DIRECTV: Free HBO, $29.99 promo/$18 HBO, $50 monthly rate. 12-month contract. $68.00
- DISH: $15 HBO, $49.99. 2-year contract. $64.99
- AT&T U-Verse: Same offer & price as DIRECTV.
- Frontier: $15 HBO, $64.99 basic package. No contract. $79.99
- RCN: $15.95 HBO, $64.99 basic TV. No contract. $80.94
- CenturyLink: $15 HBO, $39.99 Prism TV/DIRECTV promo. 12-month contract. $54.99
- Mediacom: $18.95 HBO, $29.95 basic TV. No contract. $48.90
- Cox: $10 HBO (promo)/$15 HBO, $59.99 basic TV package. 12-month contract. $74.99
- XFINITY by Comcast: $15 HBO/$59.99 basic TV package. 12-month contract. $74.99
- Time Warner Cable: $15 HBO, $39.99 basic TV package. 12-month contract. $54.99
- Optimum: $14.95 HBO, $29.95 basic TV package. No contract. $44.90
- Charter: $15 HBO, $29.99 basic TV package. 12-month contract. $44.99
Advantages: Some other basic channels along with HBO, most offer the same fee for HBO as standalone subscriptions.
Disadvantages: Prices for packages that increase steeply after promo period. Some require contracts.
Cost: Cheapest No Contract Option: Optimum, $44.90 / Cheapest Contract Option: Charter, $44.99
If you’re not concerned with participating in the chatter about the latest premier at the office, you might want to opt for an Amazon Prime subscription. While it is a bigger pricetag than just adding HBO to your existing cable TV package, you also get perks. Lots and lots of pretty terrific perks. Take a look:
- Free 2-day shipping on over 20 million items. Prime shipping can really save you major hassle during the holiday season.
- Stream movies and TV with Prime. You can access both a library of free offerings and purchase programming to watch on any device.
- Unlimited music streaming from the Prime a catalog, ad free.
- Unlimited photo storage in the Amazon Cloud.
- Early access to Amazon Lightening Deals and special offers.
- Access to over 800,000 free e-books.
Here’s the problem. Amazon only has access to older episodes of HBO shows. Currently, prime offers episodes that are three seasons behind. And they don’t have access to certain popular shows like Game of Thrones. So unless you’re new to HBO and want to binge watch Deadwood or Six Feet Under, this option is not ideal.
Advantages: Includes free shipping. Access to library of music, movies, books. Affordable yearly fee.
Disadvantages: Only older episodes of HBO programming available. Does not include Game of Thrones. Sorry, cord cutters.
Cost: Amazon Prime Membership: $99/year
Find an HBO deal that look promising and want to explore more? Enter your zip code here and discover which providers in your area offer the cheapest HBO package to get your GOT on.