HBO’s new website lets anyone watch favorite episodes for free

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Forget trailers, HBO has a new clever way to lure in potential subscribers: full free episodes paired with praise for the shows originating from social media. The idea is that existing HBO customers have watched a number of shows from the premium network and have, in many cases, praise for at least a few of them. By highlighting that praise and offering a free episode to go with it, people who don’t currently have an HBO subscription may decide to subscribe.

The new website destination is called ‘Recommended by Humans,’ and it uses a scrollable card-based design to introduce non-members to content. HBO has mined Twitter for tweets praising its different content, including things like Westworld, VEEP, Game of Thrones, and more. Users can browse the praise by navigating around in the cards.

When you find a card that interests you, tap on it and two new options will appear: ‘Watch trailer’ and ‘Watch for free.’ The latter option retrieves a free window for playing the first episode from that series — you don’t need an HBO subscription to stream the content.

The page with the free episode includes additional information to hook the viewer, including the option to explore the series and also links to get the HBO GO app or sign up for the HBO NOW service. Unlike the first of those two options, HBO NOW doesn’t require a cable subscription, instead functioning as a standalone $14.99/month service.

Of course, you’ll need to sign up for the streaming service or get the premium network through your pay-TV provider in order to watch the other episodes. As far as documentaries go, HBO is enabling users to watch the entire content for free, including the full two hours of Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

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