Apple TV will be the exclusive launch partner for HBO Now, the standalone subscription-based streaming service the pay cabler is rolling out in an attempt to court consumers who don’t want to sign up for cable service.
HBO Now will be available for $14.99 a month, starting in April — in time for the return of “Game of Thrones.”
Its planned launch on Apple devices, including iPhones and iPads, was announced at the start of an Apple press event in San Francisco on Monday. Apple’s exclusive rights to HBO Now, however, covers the first three months after launch and only non-MVPDs.
That means that HBO Now could still launch on a cable provider at the same price in April, as well, but not on platforms like Google’s Chromecast and Roku.
HBO continues to be in discussions with its existing network of distributors and new digital partners to offer HBO Now, the company said.
“The overwhelming majority of our customers prefer to access video via digital cable bundles for convenience, service quality and the unmatched value,” a spokesman for Cox Communications said. “That said, our goal remains to provide customers the content they want on the platforms they choose. Clearly we have a good relationship with HBO, we’re both highly motivated to continue to attract customers to the cable ecosystem and we continue to discuss ways to evolve our offerings to better meet customer needs. We’re talking to HBO to better understand the service they’ve announced, but our distribution agreements have not changed.”
The three largest MVPDs — Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network — declined to comment.
Apple has sold 25 million Apple TV units to date. The company announced that it’s lowering the price of Apple TV from $99 to $69.
“All you need to get HBO Now is a broadband connection and an Apple device,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said during the press event. “When you subscribe to HBO Now, you will have access to all our acclaimed original programming — past, present and future — as well as our unmatched lineup of Hollywood blockbusters.”
Similar to HBO Go, HBO Now will offer access to more than 2,000 of the network’s titles online. That includes “Game of Thrones,” “True Detective,” “Girls” and “Veep,” “True Blood” and “Sex and the City,” but also upcoming series like “Westworld,” with episodes to appear on HBO Now as they air on the pay cabler.