Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO, used Monday’s Apple press event to announce that HBO Now, the premium programmer’s new direct-to-consumer OTT service, will debut exclusively on Apple devices in “early April” for $14.99 per month.
“We are thrilled to be here this morning to announce our standalone streaming service HBO Now and we couldn’t be prouder that Apple is our exclusive partner at launch,” Plepler 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. All you need to get HBO NOW is a broadband connection and an Apple device.”
Plepler noted that HBO Now, which will not require customers to have a pay-TV subscription, will appear as a new channel on Apple TV and will be accessible on iPads and iPhones and the iPod Touch. HBO, which released this promotional video for HBO Now in tandem with Monday's announcement, said the new service will offer more than 2,000 titles online, similar to the number offered through its authenticated HBO Go apps.
At launch, prospective customers can subscribe using the HBO Now app on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, or directly via the Apple TV box, the programmer said. Once registered, HBO Now subscribers will also be able to watch at HBONOW.com.
HBO also announced that it is in talks with its existing distributors and “new digital partners” to offer HBO Now, but confirmed that, at launch, the service will be supported on iOS devices, the Apple TV, and on PCs. HBO Go, HBO’s TV Everywhere service, is currently offered on the Apple TV, as well as Web browsers, the Sony PS3 and PS4, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, the Amazon Fire TV, Kindle Fire, Google Chromecast, Roku platform, Samsung smart TVs, and the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Update: HBO confirmed that Apple's device exclusive on HBO NOW will run for three months, adding that the premium programmer is still "talking to all our pay-TV distributors and they could be there at launch." That means HBO will depend on ISPs and other partners to distribute and sell the service.
HBO Now, Plepler confirmed, will launch in time for the April 12 premiere of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. To help fuel interest in the service, consumers who sign up for HBO Now in April will get the first month free, he said.
“This is a transformative moment for HBO and we are excited to introduce HBO Now to all of you today,” Plepler said.
HBO revealed plans for the OTT offering last fall, stressing that the service, which won’t require customers to be tied to a traditional pay-TV service, will be targeted to the roughly 10 million broadband-only homes in the U.S. and won’t cannibalize the pay-TV subscription base.
Apple will also look to expand the reach of the Apple TV, the TV-connected streaming player that will have exclusive access to HBO’s new direct-to-consumer offering. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company is cutting the price on the Apple TV from $99 to $69.
“If you don’t have one yet, now’s the time,” Cook said, adding that Apple’s aim is to “reinvent the way you watch television, and this is just the beginning.”
“HBO NOW offers a new generation of HBO fans many of the best TV programs in the world without a cable or satellite subscription,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, in a statement. “Now, with the same simplicity as buying an app, customers can subscribe to HBO NOW and instantly start viewing their favorite HBO programs as they air – this is huge.”