HBO, the premium cable channel, has recently released an app called HBO Now, which will stream its television programs with no cable subscription required. This was outlined in a recent article in the New York Times. Previously, the only way to get access to HBO service was through a cable television plan. Fans of shows such as “Game of Thrones” will now be able to access HBO content legally without having to sign a contract or commitment with a cable company; HBO Now costs $15 a month with no contract, similar to Netflix.
HBO Now is capitalizing on the trend of households who have decided to cut the cords and abandon their cable plans for the likes of online streaming services. Until now, cord-cutters had a difficult time gaining access to top programming such as HBO, forcing many to turn to illegal avenues such as pirated episodes. In 2012, Game of Thrones was the most pirated show of the year, with 4.3 million downloads for a single episode.
The release of HBO Now is a monumental move which will have a major influence over the way in which people choose to consume video programming in the years to come. As television programs turn to the internet as their medium for people to consume their product, there will be no need for a cable subscription. This announcement will certainly exacerbate the problems that television providers are currently experiencing as the scramble to hold onto their market share moving forward.
Before, the primary method to watch HBO on a streaming device was through the HBO Go app, however, this still required a cable subscription. Although some cable providers chose not to support the app on certain devices even if their customers did subscribe to the channel.
Apple was given a loose exclusive to the rights of HBO Now service. For 90 days, Apple will be the only digital device maker offering the app. Apple customers with an iPhone or iPad are able to download the HBO Now app from the App Store and subscribe to the service through the App Store’s in-app payment system, or through an iTunes account on the Apple TV. Users are then able to tune in to the programming on their Apple device by using the HBO Now app or by opening HBONow.com on a computer web broswer.
Furthermore, HBO Now is only available in the United States and has no plans at this times to go overseas despite the broad international business with programming in more than 60 countries and licensing in over 150 markets.
So while the release of HBO Now is a positive move in the right direction for the stance of cable-cutters, it is only a first step. However, it is a telling sign for what to expect in the years to come in the television industry.