After months of speculation, HBO confirmed today that its new standalone premium streaming service will be called HBO NOW and (as we previously reported) it will launch in April…just in time for the fifth season of “Game of Thrones.”
This is a big deal, because it marks the first time that viewers without a cable or satellite subscription can (legally) access HBO programs. Reports say that HBO hopes to wrangle in 10-15 million cord cutters with the new service.
At an Apple event in San Francisco, Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO, HBO, said, “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.”
Unlike HBO GO, HBO NOW will be available to non-HBO subscribers. It’s unclear if HBO will continue to offer HBO GO, which has experienced technical glitches in the past and which will now be superfluous.
At launch, HBO has exclusively partnered with Apple to make the service available directly to Apple customers: Once the service launches, customers can subscribe using the HBO NOW app on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, or directly via Apple TV. The app will cost $14.99 a month. HBO cable subscribers will also be able to use the app (without paying the additional $14.99). After Apple’s exclusive 3-month window expires, other devices such as Playstation, Roku and Xbox will likely sign on to carry the service as well.
HBO said it will offer a 30-day introductory free trial period to new HBO NOW customers who sign up through Apple in April.
“HBO NOW is the next phase of innovation at HBO” said Plepler, in a statement. “With this new partnership, a natural evolution for the network, we have access to millions of Apple customers who are used to getting their favorite apps immediately. Now, they can do the same with an HBO subscription.”
HBO said it continues to be in discussions with its existing network of distributors and new digital partners to offer HBO NOW. At launch, HBO NOW will be available on iOS devices and on PCs.
Like HBO GO, HBO NOW will offer more than 2,000 titles online, including current 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.”
Upcoming original series such as “Westworld,” starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris and Evan Rachel Wood and “The Brink,” starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins, will also be available on HBO NOW, as will HBO Films’ “Bessie,” starring Queen Latifah. They will become available on HBO NOW as soon as they air on HBO.
Also available on the new service will be “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “VICE,” HBO Sports documentaries, series and World Championship Boxing events, as well as HBO documentaries like “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” and the Academy Award-winning “Citizenfour.” Check out the trailer announcing the service below.