How to watch HBO in the UK

16 Oct 2018

Young friends watching tv together

Who are HBO?

HBO is an American cable network and they are widely considered to have produced some of the best television programmes in the world. Although they have other successes with comedies, including the likes of Flight of The Concords and Curb Your Enthusiasm, they are most widely recognised for their contributions to the world of serial televised drama.

They had success before that – the company has been around since 1972, after all – but at least outside of the US, they are overwhelmingly known for their modern programming and long-form dramatic series. These are a huge part of where HBO has made their name, without taking anything away from other huge hits like Sex in the City.

It may seem perfectly normal now for a show to have huge production values and dozens, if not hundreds, of hours to tell its story. However, this wasn’t always the case. Although people debate where the change began in earnest, it wasn’t too long ago that the idea of audiences devoting enough time to a single story in big enough numbers to be worthy of a budget the size of Game of Thrones, to give one example, was considered unfeasible.

At this time, the place to go to find serious, high budget drama was the cinemas, and that only demanded a few hours of a viewers’ time. To go from that to what we have now – huge narratives that would take days to complete – was a huge leap.

In the late 90s, HBO began this trend with the hour per episode serial televised drama series OZ. However, the popularity of this type of programming really took off in 1999 with the premiere of what is now one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows of all time, The Sopranos. The outstanding success of this show proved that this kind of high budget long-form storytelling could captivate an audience, and since then, the trend has been a runaway train inspiring hundreds of shows, along with original programming from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Today, HBO offers a massive variety of programming, showing that while they may have made their name with drama, they are just as adept at comedy and more light-hearted entertainment too. To put it simply, HBO in the eyes of many, produce some of the finest television ever made.

If you’re in the United Kingdom though, you have probably noticed that there is no HBO UK channel to speak of. So, with that in mind, how exactly do you go about enjoying everything HBO has to offer?

The HBO Now problem

It would probably make the most sense – as is the way entertainment is going in general – for a network with the amount of content that HBO has, to have a subscription-based online streaming service. And they do with HBO Now. Unfortunately, the United Kingdom is blocked from accessing it.

This means that, as of now, there is no way to watch all of HBO’s original programming legally on a streaming service. Your only option for certain HBO programmes is to buy a physical copy or to download them online through services like iTunes or Google Play. As you can imagine though, this can be a very expensive way to enjoy these programmes.

However, don’t fret too much, because although you may not be able to enjoy everything HBO has to offer on one easy to use, all-encompassing service – which we hope will be this case one day – you can enjoy most of it. Although you might miss out on some of the more obscure gems from the channels illustrious history, for the most modern and most popular shows, you have two options, which each representing pretty good value for money.

Sky Atlantic

If you want to enjoy the most HBO programming legally possible in the UK with a simple subscription, then your most comprehensive option is without a doubt Sky Atlantic. Sky has a deal with HBO that allows that to be the only channel that can air HBO shows in the UK.

This means the likes of Westworld, True Detective and so on can all be found right here. It even goes further than being simply HBO by another name, also offering programming from other premier American networks.

Sky Atlantic really does put together a dreamtime of terrific American televised drama and is more than worthy of being a home to the lofty HBO name. Not only that, but there’s also boxset options, which come with selected HBO programming. However, in order to get Sky Atlantic, you must sign up fully to Sky TV.

Now, depending on your entertainment needs, this might be the best possible deal for you because if you do watch most of their programming, then what they offer altogether is a pretty good deal. But if you want to check out exactly how they stack up to other options, then you can do so with our easy to use comparison service.

Sky TV Deals

Now TV

For people who won’t make enough use of Sky’s services to make a subscription a worthwhile investment, then are you stuck simply missing out on your favourite shows? Luckily not, as there’s a cheaper option. See, Sky also operates Now TV and for many people, this offers an economical way of watching Sky channels.

Their Entertainment package doesn’t have everything Sky Atlantic does: it instead offers a selection of Sky programming from across various channels. That being said, many find it has plenty of great programming for them, and as it is currently only £7.99 a month, it comes to a fraction of the cost of signing up to Sky TV. What is right for you depends on what programming you want and how much you are willing to pay.

Now TV Deals

How Hoppy can help

In order to get a closer look at exactly what is available where and for what price, then check out Hoppy’s free comparison tool to simply and easily see what is available across multiple providers. While it is a shame that there isn’t easy access to the entire HBO library, you can get the vast majority of popular and modern shows for a fairly decent price, and Now TV and Sky TV mean that it’s available for a larger variety of people.

The amount of choice available for TV lovers today is absolutely staggering, and while that’s certainly a good thing, the number of options can easily lead some people to pay for more than they need. At Hoppy, we make it quick and straightforward to digest all that information and therefore find the right deal for you. TV should be simple, and we’re here to help keep it that way.


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