HBO/CINEMAX Free Preview for the rest of the year

It’s that time again… Get ready to fire up those DVRs as HBO and Cinemax are free all weekend for DIRECTV subscribers, starting tomorrow! If you’ve ever been curious about Game of ThronesLast Week Tonight With John Oliver or any of the other great stuff on HBO or Cinemax, this is your time to dig in! Remember that everything you record this weekend will still be good no matter when you watch it so whether you’re catching that excellent original entertainment on HBO or those awesome recent movies on Cinemax, make sure to record everything you possibly can for watching later!

Why the free preview? Why now?

Generally AT&T opens the door for free previews when they’re about to debut a new series. This time that doesn’t seem to be true. Their promotions really only mention Game of Thrones, so perhaps they are trying to build enthusiasm for Season 8, which premieres at the end of April. GoT is the hands-down winner for most expensive TV series in history, with each hour of TV costing as much as many feature films. Season 8 is the final one for this cash cow so I’m guessing that AT&T is doing everything possible to drive interest in the show. They’ve made Season 1 free for everyone even if they don’t have HBO, and all seasons are free all weekend so download all the on-demand content you can.

If you don’t care for dragons…

…there’s still a massive amount of content out there for you to watch. Remember that anything you record during the preview will still be active after the preview is over so take a good look and fill that DVR up. The Genie 2 DVR can record up to 7 shows at a time so you could very easily accumulate 100 hours of content that you can watch any time you want.

Take a closer look at Cinemax

Cinemax has been the butt of jokes in past years for its combination of older movies and soft-core porn but they’ve really sharpened up in the last year or so. They’ve all but eliminated the Saturday night “special content” that earned the service the “Skinemax” name, and they’ve started to offer movies that you can’t get anywhere else. Interestingly, most Cinemax content isn’t available on any other streaming service, including HBO Go. You can subscribe to it over Prime Video but that’s about it.

The future of HBO?

Hardly a week goes by when people don’t ask me about the future of premium channels like HBO and Cinemax. These channels were born in the 1970s when VHS VCRs ruled the world and were known for creating a steady diet of movies that repeated over and over. With over 20 channels of HBO and Cinemax offering the same content over and over, people wonder if these channels can survive. Most millennials ignore “live” HBO altogether and focus only on streaming.

While HBO GO is important obviously, there’s no fear that the live TV channels are going away anytime soon. They’re still important to AT&T’s commercial accounts like hotels. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of channels dropping slightly, but the live component of HBO isn’t going anywhere, especially since HBO and Cinemax are now owned by AT&T.

Where to watch the free previews

You can find the live channels starting at Channel 501. In the guide, arrow over to channel’s name and press SELECT to go to the On Demand selection.

If you like what you see, I’m sure the folks at AT&T would love it if you considered subscribing. You get a lot of entertainment. For just a few more dollars than a standalone HBO NOW subscription, you get over 20 channels of live TV, full On Demand, and of course HBO GO.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.