Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY! That’s when Game of Thrones comes back, and you need somewhere to watch it. But wait! What if you don’t have cable or an HBO package? Luckily, you don’t need it anymore—these days, you can legally stream HBO over the internet and onto virtually any device out there. Here’s how.
Things are better than they once were; why, back in my day the only way to watch Game of Thrones on show day was to buy a TV package, borrow a friend’s HBO Go login to watch it online (which still required someone to have a cable subscription) or shut out Twitter for a few hours and illegally download the episode from a torrent site. We’re living in better times now.
By now you’ve probably heard of HBO Now— it’s a $15 stand-alone service that lets you watch HBO TV shows with just plain ol’ internet. Sort of. The catch is that the service is exclusive to Apple devices for its first 90 days. Tough luck if you don’t have an iPad, iPod, iPhone or Apple TV, right? Good thing there’s a way around it!
Turns out that setting up your account is the only part of the process that’s actually exclusive to Apple at the moment. The HBO Now website will actually let you stream Game of Thrones (or any other HBO show) from any web browser on any computer, as long as you have an account. The app is free, so if you simply borrow a device from a friend or even use a demo-device on display at an Apple Store (not super recommended), you should be able to register in just a few minutes.
You won’t even need a credit card: HBO Now starts with a free trial. You’ll be watching the premiere for free.
- Find an Apple device running iOS: an iPad, iPod, iPhone or an Apple TV.
- If you don’t own an Apple device, borrow one from a friend or go to an Apple Store and use a display model.
- Download the free HBO Now app from the App Store.
- Select “Start your free trial with iTunes” and enter your name, email address, zip code and password.
- Enjoy your new HBO Now account! You can stream shows from any iOS device you have access to or directly from any web browser on any computer. The Game of Thrones season premiere will go live on HBO Now the same time it premieres on live TV, just like HBO Go.
Can’t (or won’t) use an iOS device? Not content to watch on a computer? There is another option: Sling TV. Think of Sling TV as Netflix, but for live television—select channels are streamed to you over the internet for $20 a month with additional channels available via add-on packages. One of those add-ons is HBO. It costs $15 to add the premium network to Sling TV. It’s not perfect, but it could be good enough.
Sling TV will give you live HBO in time to watch the premiere of Game of Thrones season 5, but since the live service requires the basic package, you’ll be paying $35 total for the privilege. Unlike regular cable HBO subscriptions, you won’t have access to the HBO Go website either—meaning you can only watch the network and its backlog of on-demand content through the Sling TV app. The Sling TV app is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV and Xbox One—but it’s a walled garden you might not want to walk through. Still, it’s a more complete HBO experience, and it comes with at least a dozen other channels, so long as you want them.
- Open a web browser and go to Sling.com
- Click on “Start your 7 days free!”
- Fill in your email address and desired password.
- Scroll down to “Extras” and click the “Add” button next to HBO. It’ll turn into a green checkmark if you did it right. Also take a second to peek at the other packages. There’s one for kids channels (cartoons!) and sports (ESPN!) and more.
- Enter your billing information (you won’t be charged until the 7-day trial is over) and click “finish and submit.”
- Download the Sling TV app for iOS, Android, Amazon FireTV (or FireTV Stick) or Xbox One. Don’t have any of those? You can nab desktop apps for Windows and OS X from the Sling TV website.
If neither of those options work for you, you’ll have to do things the old fashioned way: borrowing from a friend. HBO has been pretty open about allowing its customers to share their HBO Go login with friends. And let’s be honest, it’s by far the most cost effective option. It’s also easy.
- Ask a friend with HBO if you can use their HBO Go account to watch Game of Thrones
- Log in to HBO Go at HBOgo.com
- Watch HBO.
You can share your Sling TV account with friends too, but only if you’re all only watching HBO. For whatever reason, Sling TV limits normal channels to only one concurrent stream at a time, but allows up to three apps to simultaneously watch HBO. That means you and two other friends can watch Game of Thrones at the same time, but if anybody tries to hop over to a different channel they’ll get kicked out of the app.
Finally, if you somehow can’t use any of the above options, there are places online where you’ll be able to download the new episode immediately after it airs in a totally not legal way. I mean, it’s kind of a Joffrey move, but hey—what you do on your own time is your business.
[Editor’s note: Are you outside the United States? Might want to look into a VPN service.]