HBO to launch standalone HBO Now streaming service in time for 'Game of Thrones'
HBO's standalone streaming service has a name, a price, a premiere month and, for now, an exclusive home in Apple TV.
Starting next month (the press release doesn't give an exact date, but says it will be in time for the fifth season premiere of "Game of Thrones," which is on April 12, and which has a spiffy new trailer), people who want to watch HBO but don't want to get a cable subscription to do so can now get the HBO Now service for $14.99 a month, which will largely duplicate what traditional HBO subscribers can stream through HBO Go.
According to the press release, "HBO NOW provides instant access to HBO’s acclaimed programming. Watch every episode of every season of the best series programming, more of the biggest and latest Hollywood hit movies, original HBO Films, groundbreaking documentaries, sports and comedy and music specials. To subscribe to the streaming service HBO NOW, consumers only need the internet."
The service will include both current series as well as many classic shows from the HBO library like "The Sopranos," "The Wire" and "Sex and the City." (Neither Now nor Go offers shows that HBO doesn't own the rerun rights to, like "The Larry Sanders Show.")
For the first three months of its existence, Apple and its devices (Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, etc.) will be the only way you can use the HBO Now app, though subscribers will be able to watch on HBONow.com. Apple no doubt paid a large chunk of money to have that exclusive window during "Game of Thrones" season — and customers who sign up in April through Apple get the first month free — but I suspect Roku and other devices will have access to the app down the road.
So this is it: the a la carte programming future is here. As I wrote back in the fall after HBO and CBS announced these standalone services, I think unbundling is going to have just as much downside as upside, with individual subscription fees and a higher cost for broadband eventually coming out to close to what we pay for cable now, but if you really only care about HBO, here it is.
So who's ready to throw out their parents' HBO Go login and sign up for this?