Launched in 1972 to fewer than 400 customers, Home Box Office (HBO) was the first subscription TV service in America. And for most of the past 50 years, you needed to order HBO through your cable or satellite TV provider. But cord-cutting HBO fans will be pleased to know that’s no longer the case. There are 3 ways you can watch HBO live without cable in 2022 – Hulu + Live TV, DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV.
How is HBO different from HBO MAX?
HBO’s service offerings can be confusing, as it’s had a number of streaming services over the past 10+ years. First there was HBO Go, then HBO Now, then HBO Max, then HBO Now was rebranded as simply HBO. None of these had or have live simulcasts of the HBO channels you can watch with cable or satellite.
Therefore, when we’re talking about watching “HBO live”, we’re referring to the linear HBO channels that broadcast live, scheduled programming.
But if you’re just looking for HBO content, and watching new shows as they broadcast live for the first time isn’t important, you can sign up for HBO Max directly without needing to pay for a live TV streaming service. The standalone HBO Max service is $9.99/month for the ad-supported version or $14.99/month for the Ad-Free plan.
How to watch HBO live on Hulu + Live TV
First, adding HBO Max to the Hulu on-demand base plan ($6.99) does NOT get you the HBO live channels. You need Hulu + Live TV .
Hulu + Live TV’s base plan is $69.99/month, while Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV is $75.99/month. But only Hulu’s on-demand library is ad-free, live TV programming will still have commercials.
Hulu + Live TV comes with 75 channels, including the Big 4 — ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. It also includes ESPN+ and Disney+, making it a great choice for families.
The HBO Max add-on costs $14.99/month on top of your subscription and gives you some of HBO’s live linear channels as well as access to HBO Max.
Both Hulu + Live TV plans include unlimited cloud DVR. They also only let you watch on 2 screens at the same time, but the Unlimited Screens add-on can solve that for an extra $9.99/month.
Therefore, to watch HBO live on Hulu + Live TV, the lowest you can pay is $84.98/month.
How to watch HBO live on DirecTV Stream
DirecTV Stream is the closest you can get to satellite TV with a streaming service, and it has 4 plans to choose from, running in price from $69.99 to $149.99 per month.
The entry-level Entertainment plan costs $69.99/month and has 65+ channels, including the Big 4 TV networks plus PBS, TBS and TNT. You also get an on-demand library with 40,000 titles.
Next up, the Choice plan is $89.99/month for 90+ channels and regional sports networks (RSNs), such as Bally Sports, that you won’t find anywhere else.
The Ultimate Plan gets you 130 channels and 55,000 on-demand titles for $104.99/month.
The top-tier Premier plan ($149.99/month) has 140+ channels and includes 4 HBO linear channels – the main channel plus HBO 2, HBO Family and HBO Latino. It also includes other premium entertainment channels like Cinemax, Showtime and Starz, and 65,000+ on-demand titles to choose from.
However, you don’t need to shell out $150/month for HBO. You can add HBO Max to any of the lower plans for $14.99/month and get access to the live channels for HBO and HBO 2, as well as HBO Family, HBO Signature and HBO Latino.
You can watch up to 20 screens on your home network, plus 3 more on the go, with all DirecTV Stream plans. Unlimited cloud DVR storage also comes standard with every plan.
To watch HBO live on DirecTV Stream, the least you’ll pay is the same you’ll pay with Hulu + Live TV – $84.98/month.
How to watch HBO live on YouTube TV
YouTube TV is the cheapest way to watch HBO live without cable or satellite. And it also gets you the most HBO channels. There are 2 options for watching HBO on YouTube TV and they both cost $14.99/month.
The first is the HBO Max add-on, which gets you HBO Max and all of its on-demand content, plus 8 HBO live, linear channels:
The second option is the HBO add-on, which costs the exact same as the first option. It gets you the 8 HBO channels but doesn’t include access to HBO Max.
YouTube TV has all the major broadcast TV networks, as well as The CW, TBS and TNT. It’s also one of the only streaming services – the other being DirecTV Stream – that has PBS stations live.
Similar to Hulu + Live TV and DirecTV Stream, YouTube TV has unlimited cloud DVR included as a standard feature. However, you only get 3 streams, but that can be upgraded to unlimited home screens for $19.99/month with the 4K Plus add-on.
The lowest you’ll pay watching HBO live on YouTube TV is $79.98/month, making it the most affordable option on this list.
Douglas Wright is a freelance writer based in Japan. A former web designer and technical writer, he left beautiful Vancouver for bustling Tokyo, where he spent a decade recruiting for software and high-tech firms. No longer commuting through the world’s busiest train station, he writes fiction and a wide range of formats for clients around the world. When he gets AFK, he’s either outdoors with his two boys, streaming a show with his wife, or reading a book over a French-pressed, hand-ground coffee.