As of Saturday, HBO Go is no more, meaning that cable subscribers may have a hard time streaming HBO content on Amazon Fire TV or Roku devices. HBO's parent company, Warner Media, has been at a stalemate with the two streaming hardware providers over how to proceed with its new service, HBO Max. This latest shift makes it all the harder for customers to watch the service on the device of their choosing.
HBO Go previously served as the app that cable customers could use to stream HBO content when they were away from their cable box — not to be confused with HBO Now, which was for those without cable packages that wanted to pay a flat fee for HBO like any other streaming service. HBO Now was absorbed into the new HBO Max, and according to a report by CNET, HBO Go has retired altogether on Saturday, since most cable users get HBO Max as a free upgrade. This comes with a major drawback, however — access on preferred streaming devices.
Amazon Fire TV and Roku — the two most popular streaming devices — still have not agreed to host an HBO Max app, as they are negotiating for a bigger cut of the profits. With HBO Go gone, that leaves some customers with no way to watch HBO content on their TV.
For now, many users are turning to other hardware options to stream HBO Max on their TV. Popular workarounds include using game consoles like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, using a Google Chromecast to stream the content on a mobile device but display it on the TV, or trying to use another screen-mirroring app available on Amazon Fire TV or Roku. When all else fails, some are simply plugging their laptops into the TV via HDMI to get their fix.
While this is a battle for profit between major media companies, the true victims are the customers, as many people see it. The negotiations between WarnerMedia, Amazon and Roku are extremely convoluted, as they involve the existing deals the companies had before HBO Max was launched. Both Amazon and Roku already offered HBO as a "channel" on their skinny TV bundle services, which netted them a greater profit since they got to collect user data. Now, the companies are reluctant to treat HBO Max, like other streaming services — such as Netflix or Disney+ — while WarnerMedia is hesitant to let its new crown jewel get roped into the same deal as its previous service.
Hopefully, the companies will come to an agreement sooner or later so that customers can get on with their binge-watching. HBO Max includes the entire HBO catalog, as well as other WarnerMedia properties and licensed material. It is the new streaming home of Friends, for example, making it a staple in many peoples' media diets. HBO Max is available now for $14.99 per month. It can be viewed on laptops, computers, mobile devices, Apple TVs, gaming consoles and some Smart TVs.