A disappointing week with HBO on Amazon

HBO LogoLast week something came out that got me to try a free 7-day trial subscription to HBO, that being the Andre the Giant documentary.

Amazon offered an HBO trial through their Prime Video app, and not having my standard HBO hookup (friends who come over and cast to my Chromecast for a Game of Thrones viewing,) I decided to try the trial.

What followed I’m not sure is standard, Amazon specific, or something on my side. Perhaps I’ll get an answer in the comments.

TL;DR – Paul’s seeing issues that Googling isn’t helping, asking questions.

I signed up in the Prime Video app on the TCL tv (Roku)and the channel appeared in my Amazon Video channels and it was pretty decent but something felt off. I originally thought this might have something to do with them trying to match the framerate or feel of the old footage and didn’t think much about it.

The Andre the Giant documentary was worth it, I now had seven days left to hit everything on HBO I wanted. I started watching Barry (Bill Hader as a hitman who wants to quit,) something seemed off from the other videos I’d watched via Netflix, Hulu, even Amazon video. Barry was amusing, I watched the three episodes that were out.

I watched a couple of episodes of other series and noticed that same off feeling. Something didn’t look right.

I put on Flight of the Conchords and it was terrible, not the show mind you but the quality. Filmed in 2007 it looked like it was from the 90’s, audio was not matching the lips, scan lines/interlacing was visible, felt like I was watching with several dropped frames due to a low bandwidth connection.

Backed out, watched some Netflix, no issues, back to Amazon video to watch yet another of the same episode of Creative Galaxy on Amazon video my 5yo loves, no issues. Back to HBO to watch some gritty crime drama and nope, looked bad.

As I’m contemplating completely cutting the cord, or in my current case ditching the dish, the questions I run into are that several places, such as Amazon and Sling, serve up HBO, and as I can’t seem to get a straight answer out of anyone I’m wondering is Amazon serving HBO’s content (and therefor my HBO issues were Amazon’s,) or are they directing my Amazon video app to HBO’s servers, in which case the issues will persist across the board with whatever provider.

Not that I’m particularly hooked on HBO, only thing I watch was Game of Thrones, and that’s pretty much a gather around and someone with an account casts sort of thing.

So was it just me, did I pick the only off-encoded shows on HBO, is it Amazon Video (which I do recall seeing similar issues about two years ago when I rented Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon on Prime Video,) or am I rare and unique rainbow-tooting panda bear that has something wrong with his Roku Prime Video app?

Just feels like a codec or bandwidth issue when on the HBO feed.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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5 thoughts on “A disappointing week with HBO on Amazon

  • Avatar of Hospitalist

    The HBO subscription through Amazon should be linked to HBO credentials and you should be able to load the HBO (go or now) app on your phone or tablet and cast to your chromecast to check the quality independent of the Amazon Roku app. Alternatively load the HBO app into Roku on your TCL tv (it sounds like you are watching HBO content from within the Amazon roku app, correct?)

    I did notice during a recent DirectTV now trial with HBO that the HBO app was more likely to use less than 1080p resolutions and look more compressed than usual Netflix/Amazon.

    • I’ve never had issues with people walking into my house with HBO Go and casting. I didn’t see anywhere where I received HBO credentials, the HBO Channel just appears in the Amazon app.

      Amazon -> Your Channels -> HBO

      I can tell you GoT looks great when cast from HBO Go to my Chromecast 2/U (unless it’s right ten minutes after the thing is released and then you can smell the servers melting from a thousand miles away).

      This is something either new, with the Roku Amazon app, or with Amazon’s serving of HBO. That or I’m just lucky.

  • Did you try watching on something else?(your laptop or phone) to see if you were running into similar quality issues?

    • I’ve watched HBO via people coming over with HBO Now and casting to my Chromecast, no issues of video quality. That said, I didn’t test out Amazon’s HBO implementation on my other TV because it’s a CC-Ultra and Amazon locked them out.


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