HBO’s new standalone streaming service called HBO NOW has officially launched on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. HBO NOW allows subscribers to watch the premium network’s movies and TV shows online. The service is similar to Netflix as it’s delivered over a high-speed Internet connection rather than cable or satellite and doesn’t require long-term committments through contracts. Here’s how to get HBO NOW works: expand full story
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At the Spring Forward event, Apple and HBO announced HBO Now, an over-the-top unbundled streaming service for HBO shows, like Game of Thrones, independent of a cable subscription. They claimed that HBO Now would be ‘exclusive to Apple TV and iOS devices for three months’. This seemed like a great promotion for Apple’s television offerings, coinciding with a price cut of the Apple TV box to $69.
However, Sling TV has now announced that it will be offering the same deal through its service: HBO shows for $15 a month. This throws shade at Apple’s announcement — signing up for Sling TV will make HBO available on devices like the Roku this month. It is worth noting that the Sling deal also requires a subscription to Sling itself, HBO is only available as an add-on, which is an additional $20 a month.
Sling has found a ‘loophole’ in Apple’s deal so that it can offer cable-independent HBO content this month as well, sidelining Apple’s three month exclusivity window …
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Reuters reported that HBO might consider a reversal of its previous position of not allowing access to HBO Go without a cable subscription.
HBO Go launched 3 years ago to allow subscribers to watch shows on tablets, but the service is so far restricted to those who have a cable TV subscription with an HBO partner and pay a top-up HBO fee. Co-President Eric Kessler had previously, and rather naively, said in a video interview at VideoNuze that those abandoning cable TV for purely online viewing was “minimal” and a temporary response to the economy, and he said there was no reason to offer a standalone mobile service.
This position now appears to be softening, with CEO Richard Plepler recognizing that a growing number of consumers want to choose both content and viewing platform at will.
“Right now we have the right model,” Plepler told Reuters on Wednesday evening at the Season 3 premiere of HBO’s hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” “Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve.”
Companies like HBO are faced with a difficult tightrope act. While they earn billions of dollars from their existing sales model, any new offering that risks cannibalizing revenue is a frightening prospect for the company. Equally, however, it’s clear that ‘cable-cutting’ —giving up cable TV subscriptions in favor of online viewing— will only increase. Failing to respond to this is not an option.
One number will be looming very large in front of HBO: 25 million. That’s the number of illegal downloads of its hit show “Game of Thrones”. While some substantial proportion of those people would download pirated content for free no matter what options were available, there is a growing phenomenon of illegal downloads by those who would be willing to pay for content simply because existing deals don’t allow them the freedom to simply pay for the content they want on the device they want.