Unbundled HBO Now launches on Apple

As anticipated, HBO’s standalone OTT service – confirmed as HBO Now – is first coming to market exclusively on Apple devices.

The companies’ CEOs revealed the tie-up at an Apple event in San Francisco. The service will cost $14.99, with the first month free initially for those who sign up through Apple devices. The service won’t require a separate subscription from a pay-TV provider.

Upon registering, subscribers will also be able to watch at HBONOW.com. HBO will offer a 30 day introductory free trial period to new HBO Now customers who sign up through Apple in April.

HBO continues to be in discussions with its existing network of distributors and new digital partners to offer HBO NOW.

“HBO NOW is the next phase of innovation at HBO,” said Richard Plepler, Chairman and CEO, HBO.  “With this new partnership, a natural evolution for the network, we have access to millions of Apple customers who are used to getting their favourite apps immediately.  Now, they can do the same with an HBO subscription.”

“HBO NOW offers a new generation of HBO fans many of the best TV programmes in the world without a cable or satellite subscription,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Now, with the same simplicity as buying an app, customers can subscribe to HBO NOW and instantly start viewing their favourite HBO programmes as they air—this is huge.”

Similar to HBO GO, HBO NOW will offer more than 2,000 titles online. This includes current critically-acclaimed series such as Game of Thrones, True Detective, Silicon Valley, Girls, Veep and The Leftovers, as well as classics such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, True Blood, The Wire and Deadwood.

The exclusivity is a clear differentiator for Apple devices, according to Tim Westcott and Dan Cryan from IHS Technology.

Cryan, Director of Broadband Analysis at the firm, notes that consumption is moving away from the PC towards other forms of connected devices (notably devices that connect to the TV and tablets). “In this context, Apple’s exclusivity is a big deal as, at least for the moment, it means that there is a clear point of differentiation for Apple devices. However, the lesson from Netflix is that to grow a digital customer base, you have to reach consumers on the devices where they choose to consume content. Consequently we don’t expect this exclusivity to remain over the long term, unless HBO is heavily compensated,” he advises.

His colleague Tim Westcott, Senior Television Analyst, IHS Technology, notes that the service will be available on iOS devices and PCs. “This means that it could in theory be offered by HBO’s cable, sat and IPTV partners via their TV Everywhere services. As to whether HBO could launch internationally, HBO is already available OTT in the Nordics and probably does not have rights clearances in markets like the UK (where it has an output deal with Sky). On that theme, would be interesting to know if HBO Now will stream any third party content like Fox movies,” he suggests.

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