As most people already know, there’s only one way to watch the final season of Game of Thrones live, and it involves getting some form of HBO subscription. Season 8, which will close out the series, begins airing on Sunday, April 14th, at 9PM ET. The eighth season will consist of six episodes, which will air on Sundays at 9PM ET. The series will wrap on May 19th.
If you’re a little late to the Game of Thrones party, and you’re panicking as you try to remember where the story physically left Daenerys Targaryen, Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, and other key players, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are ways to get caught up without binging almost three days’ worth of episodes. There’s still time to read a few recaps or watch a few videos as a reminder.
Similarly, if you’re late to setting up your viewing plan for the show, you still have a number of ways to get access, either through streaming services or via HBO itself. Here are various ways to subscribe, with a breakdown of costs, added benefits, and when to unsubscribe to avoid extra charges.
(This list is ordered from most affordable to the most expensive methods for getting HBO, but don’t disqualify the pricier options outright. They come with some extra perks not found in the cheaper options.)
- Monthly cost: $14.99 after a seven-day free trial
- Total amount paid to watch season 8 of Game of Thrones: $14.99 (plus tax)
HBO Now offers a seven-day free trial before it starts charging you $14.99 per month. This is the most affordable route to take if you don’t subscribe to any other services.
If you sign up for HBO Now on April 14th, the day of the premiere, you won’t be charged until April 21st, which is when the second episode airs. Season 8 will conclude before you’re charged again, so you’ll be able to get away with just paying $14.99.
If you’ve never subscribed to HBO or if it’s been a while, there’s plenty to watch on HBO between Game of Thrones episodes. The service hosts plenty of movies, and shows like True Detective, Insecure, The Night Of, The Leftovers, Veep, and Barry are worthwhile if you’re looking to maximize the value of your subscription.
- Monthly cost: At minimum, $5.99 per month (paid after a 30-day free trial ends), plus $14.99 after a seven-day free trial of HBO
- Total amount paid: $20.98 (plus tax)
New Hulu users get a 30-day free trial before being charged, and you can add the HBO option to your account. You’ll get the same seven-day free trial period that HBO Now subscribers get.
If you sign up for Hulu on April 14th, you’ll be charged a minimum of $5.99 (if you opt in for the limited commercial plan) on May 14th, and HBO access will cost $14.99 once your seven-day free trial concludes on April 21st.
- Monthly cost: $12.99 (paid after a 30-day free trial ends), plus $14.99 after a seven-day free trial of HBO
- Total amount paid: $27.98 (plus tax)
Amazon Prime Video is a free perk with Amazon Prime, and vice versa. Signing up gives you a 30-day free trial. If you start the trial on April 14th, Amazon won’t charge you until May 14th. Like the other services, signing up for HBO gives you a free week, then you’ll be charged $14.99. If you cancel when Game of Thrones ends on May 19th, you won’t need to pay for another month.
Getting HBO through Amazon Prime Video isn’t the most affordable method, though it comes with benefits. First off, there are good Prime Original movies and TV shows to check out, including Catastrophe, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Big Sick, and Manchester by the Sea. In addition to TV and movies, you’ll be able to get free two-day shipping on purchases from Amazon during your free trial of Prime.
- Monthly cost: $50 (paid after a seven-day free trial ends)
- Total amount paid: $50 (plus tax)
DirecTV Now is the most expensive option for getting HBO access, but it’s among the easiest ways to get it. A recent change to DirecTV Now’s channel lineup removed AMC, HGTV, BET, Comedy Central, and others, but it now includes HBO in both its packages, starting at $50.
Signing up for DirecTV Now on April 14th means you’ll be charged $50 on April 21st when your seven-day free trial ends. This service dangles a carrot in the form of an Apple TV 4K for those who are willing to put down four months’ worth of monthly payments. Apple’s streaming box is around $170 by itself, so it’s a decent value if you see yourself wanting both the service and the Apple TV 4K long after Game of Thrones has come to an end.
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By Cameron Faulkner