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HBO Now Service Has Roughly 800,000 Paying Subscribers

HBO Now has roughly 800,000 paying subscribers since launching last April, HBO CEO Richard Plepler told analysts on Wednesday.

That is lower than the 1 million to 2 million subscribers that Wall Street had expected the streaming service to boast at this point.

“We’re very excited about where we are,” said Plepler. When pressed about the lower-than-anticipated subscriber numbers, the HBO head got defensive.

“I wouldn’t say only 800,000 subs,” he said. “We’re just getting started. … I think we’re going to make a lot of progress as we put new content on to our platforms.”

Among the shows he touted were new offerings from former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and sports columnist Bill Simmons, as well as a daily news program from Vice. Plepler also predicted that the number of paying customers would grow as the service is made available on other devices such as PlayStation or Xbox.

Plepler said the cable company will hold fast to its $14.99 a month price for the subscription service.

“We don’t have any plans to change the price point — we think that a premium price right now makes sense,” he said.

HBO is essentially alone in pulling back the curtain on its customer base. Other recently launched streaming services, such as those from CBS and Showtime, have yet to disclose subscriber numbers.

HBO was a major subject of discussion during its parent company Time Warner’s quarterly earnings call. As rumors swirl, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes hit back at suggestions that the media conglomerate should spin off HBO, arguing that the “combined scale of our businesses is critical.”

Going forward, Time Warner leadership said they planned to increase HBO’s global programming hours by 50% this year and would also spend more on marketing to drive subscriber growth. Shares of Time Warner were down 3.17% to $61.21 in mid-morning trading.

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