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How to watch HBO in the UK and abroad

Our easy-to-follow guide will show you how to watch all of HBO's programming in the UK and abroad

Even though we have more content on streaming services than we have time to watch in the UK, we’re constantly looking to see what our neighbours in the US have that we don’t and if there’s one streaming service that we covet the most, it’s undoubtedly HBO.

However, unlike most of the other big streaming services (namely Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus) that are now widely available both in the UK and abroad, HBO is highly geo-blocked, meaning you can’t access it from outside the US unless you use a good VPN service, like ExpressVPN.

While HBO has several different versions of its service (which can get complicated), it also has features that many of the aforementioned services don’t have, like the availability of blockbuster films on the day of their theatrical release.

Apart from Wonder Woman 1984 that released on December 25, 2020, the platform will feature some of 2021’s biggest films, namely Mortal Kombat, Dune, The Matrix 4, Space Jam: A New Legacy and more on the same day they release in theatres.

Given theatres won’t see the same footfall they did pre-pandemic, this makes HBO an even more exciting prospect, especially if you want to watch your favourite movies without paying a dear penny.

If you’re wondering what HBO is, what it’s different versions mean, and how you can access its entire library from the UK or abroad, then read on as we answer all of your questions one by one.

What’s available on HBO?

HBO is an American cable company that produces series, documentaries and movies for its cable channel and streaming services: HBO Go, HBO Now and the recently-launched, HBO Max.

Similar to how you can buy different TV packages in the UK from the likes of Sky and Virgin Media, HBO offers TV packages for viewers living in the US. These packages include 24-hour networks, HBO Comedy, HBO Family, HBO Latino and original programming.

Perhaps most importantly, HBO is the source for some of the most successful original TV shows since the company’s inception, including:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Friends
  • The Big Band Theory
  • Doctor Who
  • Chernobyl
  • Big Little Lies
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • The Wire
  • The Sopranos

Doesn’t HBO Go also show movies?

It definitely does. Not only does HBO have some of the best television you can watch, but it also has over 1,000 entertaining movies for you to choose from.

These include:

  • The Dark Knight trilogy
  • The Matrix trilogy
  • Wonder Woman
  • Mad Max Fury Road
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • A Star is Born
  • The Hangover
  • School of Rock
  • Cold Mountain
  • The Meg

Hopefully, these shows and movies do a good job of highlighting how much worthwhile content HBO has, as well as how instrumental the company has been in influencing the cultural zeitgeist – in regards to our viewing habits – in the 21st century. Not only that, but these shows, movies and more can all be watched using HBO’s services. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to watch HBO’s entire catalogue of programming.

READ NEXT: How to watch US TV from outside the US

HBO Go vs HBO Now vs HBO Max?

It may seem strange at first, but HBO provides three separate streaming services for people to use. The first is HBO Go, which is a free streaming service that’s provided for customers who purchase one of HBO’s cable subscriptions. This means people who have not purchased an HBO TV package can’t actually use HBO Go.

HBO Now, on the other hand, is a standalone service that anyone can subscribe to for $15/mth and the service comes with a seven-day free trial. Essentially, HBO operates like Sky does in the UK, who provide the Sky Go streaming service for Sky TV customers and offering Now TV as a separate, standalone service (we will come back to Sky and Now TV later).

The latest big streaming service, HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s newest platform that launched in the US on 27 May 2020 for $15/mth, or $12/mth if you already subscribe to HBO Now. While it offers all of HBO Now content, HBO Max also includes TV shows and movies from other studios. At launch, you could watch every Harry Potter film, Friends, Joker, South Park, Big Bang Theory, Wonder Woman, the Studio Ghibli collection and more, though some of these titles have now been removed as it often the case.

READ NEXT: How to watch HBO Max in the UK and abroad

Since it’s likely you’re not living in the US if you’re reading this article, HBO Go is out of the question, as HBO TV subscriptions are exclusive to the US. That means HBO Now or Max is the way to go, right? Well, not exactly. You see, HBO geo-blocks its content. What this means is that HBO restricts its services to a select few countries (mainly US), which is why it’s not available outside the US. However, there are some nifty ways to get around this.

If you’re from the US, for example, and are already subscribed to any of HBO’s services, it’s still possible to access its content, but only through the use of VPNs (see section below). For the rest of us in the UK, though, there’s Sky Atlantic (scroll further down).

How to watch HBO in the UK and abroad

A VPN tricks your computer into thinking you’re connecting from a different country than you’re actually in, bypassing any pesky geo-restrictions for streaming content. Not all VPNs are created equal, however, so we’ve selected the best one that lets you watch HBO anywhere in the world. VPNs are the safest, and – in many cases – the only way to access local geo-blocked content when you’re travelling abroad.

READ NEXT: Best VPN service

ExpressVPN: This is one of the fastest VPNs currently available. Its download speed is double that of almost all other VPN providers and allows you to bypass almost all geo-blocked content, so watching HBO from anywhere in the world will be a doddle. While admittedly more pricey than other VPNs, it’s not without good reason and the ability to get a full refund within 30 days if you’re not satisfied means you will have plenty of time to make up your mind about the quality of ExpressVPN’s service.

Get ExpressVPN now

What is Sky Atlantic?

Sky Atlantic is a channel owned by the UK broadcaster, Sky. What’s important to know is that Sky Atlantic holds the exclusive domestic rights to broadcast all HBO programmes in the UK, along with other original series. So the easiest way to watch your favourite HBO shows if you live in the UK is via Sky TV.

How to watch Sky Atlantic

Firstly, you need to subscribe to Sky TV. You can’t access the Sky Atlantic channel without purchasing the Sky Entertainment package, which will cost you £22 per month for the first 18 months of subscription. After that, the price will increase to £27 per month. If you don’t have Sky TV, then skip to the Now TV section below.

As well as being able to watch Sky Atlantic and HBO’s expansive showlist, the Sky Entertainment package also lets you watch over 40 other channels, including Sky One, Fox, Comedy Central and Discovery. You will also be able to stream Sky content using Sky Go, which is exclusive for Sky customers.

Get Sky TV

How to watch Sky Cinema

While Sky Atlantic gives you access to all of HBO’s TV series and other TV shows, if you’re a movie buff, then you’ll need the Sky Cinema package to access all the movies that HBO has to offer. This gives you access to over 1,000 movies on demand, with a new premiere every day. Again, it’s easy to add this if you have Sky TV’s Entertainment package, but it will set you back £11 on top of what you pay for the Entertainment package, so about £33 in total.

Get Sky Cinema

Subscribe to Now TV

If you don’t want to become a Sky TV customer, then your best option is to subscribe to Now TV. This no-frills streaming service, operated by Sky, provides an alternate way to watch their content without having to endure any of its long-term commitments or subscription plans.

Now TV Entertainment Pass

Now TV has different TV Passes, depending on what you want to watch. To access HBO original series, you’ll need the Now TV Entertainment Pass, which costs £9.99/mth but comes with a weeklong-free trial, which gives you enough time to test-drive whether the service is right for you.

Buy Now TV Entertainment Pass

Now TV Sky Cinema Pass

If you prefer watching movies instead, then you’re better off purchasing the Now TV Sky Cinema Pass to get one-click access to thousands of movies in HD, but this will set you back £11.99/mth. However – like the Now TV Entertainment Pass – it also comes with a 7-day free trial, provided you’re a new member.

Buy Now TV Sky Cinema Pass

You can install Now TV on any of your devices, including PCs, phones, tablets, gaming consoles and Smart TVs. You’re allowed a maximum of six logins per account and can simultaneously use the same account on any two devices at the same time. Because of these benefits, Now TV is our preferred method to watch HBO shows and movies at home and on the go in the UK.

Subscribe to Now TV

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In-Depth | VPNs