Unless you’ve been living under The Wall for the past year — you know, that 300-mile stretch of fortification that runs along the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms — you’re probably aware that HBO’s smash fantasy series is set to return on Sunday, April 24, for its sixth season. It will continue to unfurl the brooding, incestuous bloodbath that is George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, likely shocking new and old fans alike as it introduces more characters than most of us have the capacity to remember — then unceremoniously kills most of them off just as we’re starting to really like them.
Related: Game of Thrones season 6 premiere’s title and synopsis are intriguing as ever
Thankfully, though finding a legal and affordable way to stream the show hasn’t always been easy, the premium cable network has made watching the series easier than ever before. Most importantly, HBO will be offering free access to its standalone service, HBO Now, throughout the weekend of April 22 to coincide with the premiere of season six. Jurassic World is also making its TV premier on HBO Saturday night, and for Beyonce fans, there is a special Queen B event this weekend as well.
Once this weekend wraps, however, those who opted for the free trail will need to find another reliable way to watch. Thankfully, you’ve got several options. There’s the aforementioned HBO Now, HBO’s standalone streaming service, and HBO Go, a streaming service that comes bundled with your cable subscription.
Furthermore, Dish Network and Sling TV both offer on-demand access to HBO’s offerings as an add-on subscription. We sincerely doubt the extra means will prevent the show from again seizing the title as one of the most pirated shows of all time, but at least it’s now less of a hassle to watch it guilt-free — so long as you have a bit of cash to spare and a high tolerance for the occasional animal beheading.
Updated April 22, 2016, by Brendan Hesse: Updated to account for the list of devices compatible with HBO Now, along with the announcement of ‘After Thrones.’
Watch via HBO Go
Content is king, and no one provides content better than the source itself. HBO Go was once the only official method for streaming Game of Thrones in high-definition, prior to the announcement of the HBO Now. It’s still a valid one, though, assuming you already have an HBO subscription with your cable provider. The excellent service provides unlimited access to all of HBO’s original programming — including past seasons of Game of Thrones and behind-the-scenes footage with the cast — along with the swath of theatrically-released films and television specials currently playing on the premium channel.
However, as previously mentioned, accessing HBO Go online or through the accompanying app requires you to purchase a premium HBO package. If you already have cable, you can expect an HBO subscription to cost you an upwards of $15 at the very least, with the exact rate fluctuating based on your region and the host of available promotions. HBO Go is free once you opt for a subscription through participating TV providers, though, and accessible using the HBO Go website or a slew of different platforms ranging from Apple to Android. The list of supported platforms is listed below, but keep in mind HBO Go availability is based on your service provider and may not be available for certain platforms within a specified area. Nonetheless, each new episode of Game of Thrones will be available for viewing within HBO Go immediately upon airing.
|Apple iPad||PlayStation 4|
|Apple iPhone||Xbox 360|
|Apple TV||Xbox One|
|Apple iPod Touch||Android phones|
|PlayStation 3||Android tablets|
|Amazon Fire TV||Kindle Fire|
|Sony Smart TV||Roku|
Watch via HBO Now
HBO Now functions much like the aforementioned HBO Go — providing quick access to all past, present, and future HBO content — but without the need for a cable or satellite subscription. The service offers a 30-day free trial for new users, but after that period you’ll be paying a $15-per-month subscription. With that monthly charge you’ll be granted access to a massive library of on-demand HBO content. This includes the entirety of Game of Thrones, along with the latest episodes as they air. Moreover, an HBO Now subscription will also grant you access to After Thrones, a newly-minted talk show in which Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan — of Bill Simmon’s upcoming site, The Ringer — will recap and dissect each episode after it airs. Don’t forget, HBO Now will also be available without a subscription from Friday, April 22, through Sunday, April 24.
It’s also important to note that, while HBO Now was once exclusive to Apple devices, the service is now available on a wide variety of devices and via web browsers. The standalone service is an undisputed godsend for those who have cut the cable and turned to on-demand streaming services, but still long for the quality content HBO provides. If you’re not interested in cable, or cable alternatives like Sling TV, this is going to be your best option. See the full list of compatible devices below.
|Apple TV||Apple iPad|
|Apple iPod Touch||Apple iPhone|
|Amazon FireTV Stick||Android TV|
|Android Tablets||Fire Tablets|
|Xbox One||Xbox 360|
Watch via Sling TV
There’s a reason we named Dish Network’s Sling TV app our Best of Show at CES 2015. The Internet TV service has the potential to change the television industry forever, essentially offering up a-la-carte programming with the recent addition of HBO. There is one caveat, however, in that you must subscribe to Sling TV’s core package ($20) before you can add the optional HBO channel for an additional $15. The core package, appropriately dubbed the “Best of Live TV,” will also grant you access to ESPN, AMC, ABC Family, and TBS channels, among a host of others.
If you do decide to pony up the necessary $35 for the core offering and HBO, you’ll be able to access the same wealth of content you would if you decided to opt for HBO Go or HBO Now instead. You’ll have unrestrained access to all of network’s premium programming, from its award-winning documentaries to past seasons of Game of Thrones, directly within the Sling TV app. Moreover, the Sling TV app is available across a wide range of devices (outlined below). It’s definitely one of the more expensive ways to go, but it does guarantee you’ll have immediate access new Game of Thrones episodes as they air in addition to a plethora of desirable channels. And did we mention Sling TV allows you to stream HBO on up to three devices simultaneously? Well it does, even if Sling TV typically enforces a single-stream limit.
|Apple iPad||Xbox One|
|Apple iPod Touch||Amazon Fire TV|
|Android phones||Android tablets|
|Nexus Players (coming soon)||PC|