A name that’s become synonymous with high-quality, must-see television shows and movies, HBO is America’s longest running pay TV network, about to reach a staggering 50 years of operation. But it’s been HBO’s daring, ground-breaking original programs that have made it a household name not just in the USA, but around the world.
HBO TV shows like the legendary Game of Thrones have become global phenomenons, but it’s their daring, unexpected shows that often seem to catch viewers’ attention and imagination. A brilliant example of that was last year’s surprise smash hit series Chernobyl, which premiered quietly but grew into a record-breaking hit through word of mouth. HBO has long had a habit of taking risks and seeing them pay off, whether it’s with recent daring drama Euphoria, big-budget fantasy epic His Dark Materials, classic award-winning drama like The Sopranos or the dark relationships of Big Little Lies.
HBO Streaming in Australia
Here in Australia, HBO’s shows are just as popular as they are in any other country across the globe. Alongside the main pay TV network, they also operate a couple of streaming services that let viewers stream all of their huge library of shows and movies – HBO Go, which is a free service designed for use by subscribers to the cable-delivered HBO channel, and HBO Now, a similar service that’s available to everyone for a monthly fee. But there’s one small problem – while HBO and its streaming services are available in some countries outside the USA, they’re not available here. But if you’re keen to get into the network’s many brilliant shows and want to know how to watch HBO in Australia, read on – it’s easier than you’d think!
Watching HBO in Australia the Easy Way – Through Foxtel
While it’s possible to navigate around geographic blocks and use the actual HBO services (more on that a bit later), for most people in Australia the best option by far will be to get their HBO programming from the company that has exclusive access to it here in Australia – Foxtel. Having paid a substantial sum of money to renew their licence to show HBO’s content, Foxtel smartly extended the terms of the deal – allowing them full streaming rights for all the shows and movies that HBO produces, and the entire back catalogue as well.
That means that for the price of a local subscription, you can get full, easy and high-quality access to stream the entire HBO library, as well as new shows as they arrive.
With Foxtel, there’s a lot of flexibility in how you go about doing this, too. But regardless of which method you choose, you’ll be able to stream HBO everywhere, from your big-screen TV to your phone or tablet on the go.
In Australia, most of HBO’s shows and movies are screened on the Fox Showcase channel with a couple of popular comedic shows – Silicon Valley and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – found over on the Comedy Channel (note that while these are broadcast only in standard definition, you can stream them in full HD).
Undoubtedly the easiest way to watch HBO in Australia is also by far the most flexible – the iQ4 set top box, which functions as a satellite receiver, a digital video recorder – and, of course, a platform for on-demand streaming. That means you’ll be able to record the latest HBO shows as they go to air (often fast-tracked direct from the US during the day, something that was vital for Game of Thrones), watch them live or stream them on demand whenever you like. A real advantage of using the iQ4 for this isn’t immediately obvious, but it’ll be a godsend for those on slower broadband connections – you can download the on-demand streams direct to your iQ4 hard drive, where you can then watch them in perfect quality without any risk of buffering.
For that reason, going with the iQ4 option is easily the best option for HBO streaming in Australia – but it does mean you’ll need to get a satellite dish installed at your home if you haven’t already got one. Don’t worry though – Foxtel handles all that for you, and at the moment there’s no charge for the installation.
The Foxtel bundle to go for to get HBO is really your choice, since the entry-level channel pack, Foxtel Plus, now includes Fox Showcase among its over 50 channels. That bundle costs $49 a month – but we’d recommend spending an extra 10 bucks for one of the packs currently on special offer. For example, the “Movies HD, Kids and Netflix” bundle does what it says on the tin, giving you access to ten themed ad-free 24-hour movie channels, three channels for the kids and a full HD Netflix subscription (the iQ4 can also stream Netflix!). Most importantly, it also comes with HD enabled, which you’ll want for streaming HBO in the highest possible quality.
If you don’t need Netflix, you could always go for the $50 “Movies HD + Foxtel Plus” bundle via Foxtel from Telstra, which comes with the added convenience of being able to have the service added directly onto your monthly Telstra bill.
If you’d rather not go all-out with the iQ4 and you’re after an easier way to stream HBO that doesn’t require installation, Foxtel Now is where you want to be looking. The Fox Showcase channel and Comedy Channel – and therefore access to all the HBO content – come as standard in the base entry-level “Essentials” pack, which costs only $25 a month.
Foxtel Now is a streaming-only version of full-sized Foxtel, and as such it includes both live-streaming channels and the same range of on-demand streaming that iQ4 users get. You can get Foxtel Now onto your big-screen TV by picking up Foxtel Now’s own custom streaming box, the acclaimed Telstra TV 3 box, or use a device you already have, such as game consoles and now smart TVs as well. All the HBO shows and movies stream at full high definition, without the need to pay for a HD add-on pack.
Of course, a range of other channel packs are available if you want movies or extra drama channels, which all add to your on-demand streaming library. You can road-test Foxtel Now free of charge, too – they’ll give you full access to all packs for a full 10 days so you can try it out for yourself.
HBO on the Go
Both the Foxtel iQ4 and Foxtel Now have something in common – they come with free access to the Foxtel Go app for smartphones and tablets, letting you stream your Foxtel channels – and, yes, all the HBO content on demand – wherever you are. It’s a brilliant bonus that means you can pick up The Outsider or Watchmen from where you left off when you have spare time on the commute to work, or just like the idea of streaming the latest season of Westworld while relaxing in the sun.
Access is also granted to the Foxtel web site, which delivers the full Foxtel streaming experience to your desktop or laptop computer.
Can I Sign Up for HBO Go or HBO Now?
Because HBO licenses its content to different companies in different countries, they put automatic restrictions on using their services when you’re outside the United States. HBO Go is, as we mentioned, only available to subscribers to the actual cable broadcast channel over there, but HBO Now is open to all? So is there any way of subscribing to it so you can get HBO direct from the source?
Well, the short answer is yes, but the longer answer is that it’s not always as simple as it might seem. You’d need to download the app from a US app store (which can be a bit annoying especially for iOS users, though it’s trivial on Apple TV) and then use either a VPN or what’s called “smart DNS” to fool the app into thinking you’re connecting to it from inside the US. Smart DNS is the better choice because it allows multiple devices to connect to the servers in the US, but a VPN can be easier to set up. Setting up a payment method with HBO is also complicated as credit cards from HBO-restricted countries are generally blocked. Workarounds such as virtual credit cards are hit-and-miss and also present some degree of risk as some sellers of these are shady and there’s little guarantee that a particular virtual credit card will work or continue to work over any length of time.
And then there’s the cost. HBO Now costs $15 USD per month – which is a little more than 25 Australian dollars at the time of writing. Add to that the monthly cost of a VPN or smart DNS and it quickly becomes obvious that the Foxtel options make more sense (and will stream far, far more reliably).
So while it’s a bit of an annoying and trouble-prone process to stream HBO in Australia direct from HBO, don’t worry – Foxtel has all the HBO content in their catalogue ready to stream whenever you are. Series, miniseries, movies, documentaries and more are all available in Australia and ready to binge for not very much money at all. Enjoy!
What channel is HBO on Foxtel TV?
Most of HBO’s shows and movies are screened on the Showcase channel and a few HBO comedic shows can be found on the Comedy channel.
Is The Wire on HBO GO?
Yes The Wire is on HBO GO. In Australia direct access to HBO GO is however restricted. Fortunately The Wire and other HBO shows can easily be accessed by Australians via one of Foxtel’s offerings.
How much is HBO in Australia?
Direct HBO access is restricted in Austalia but HBO’s content is available via Foxtel Now, starting at $25 a month or via Foxtel TV, starting at $49 a month.