HBO’s anticipated over-the-top, direct to consumer service will be called “HBO Now,” sell for $15 per month, and launch in tandem with the April 12 season five premiere of Game of Thrones, according to a report from the International Business Times.
HBO has announced plans to launch the OTT service in the U.S. in 2015, stressing that the service, which won’t require customers to tie in 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.
As for the purported brand for the new service, HBO Now does not yet appear in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database. HBO isn’t saying much about the report.
“We know there’s great anticipation around our standalone streaming service,” an HBO official said in an emailed statement. “And when we have details to share, we will do so.”
TV Predictions, meanwhile, has observed that several MVPDs, including Verizon Communications, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, have recently been offering HBO at a reduced or promotional price, reasoning that the tweaks in pricing and packaging will help them brace for the price point that will grace HBO's OTT offering.
Netflix, a service that is increasingly viewed as an HBO rival, sells a Standard tier for $8.99 per month (HD content and up to two streams) and a Premium offering for $11.99 per month (up to 4K, and as many as four streams). Its Basic, single-stream, standard-definition-only service runs $7.99 per month.
Other MVPDs have been experimenting with how they package HBO. Last year, AT&T introduced U-verse HBO Internet Plus, a $39 per month service that ties its 18 Mbps broadband service, an HD-ready DVR, WiFi, a basic TV lineup ,and access to HBO GO, the premium programmer’s TV Everywhere service. Comcast has kicked the tires on “Internet Plus,” a $40 per month package that provided a 20-25 Mbps broadband service, bundled in its Streampix subscription multiscreen VOD service, WiFi, and HBO.
While HBO has not yet confirmed a launch date or a price for the OTT service, a Parks Associates survey found that 17% of U.S. broadband homes are “likely” to subscribe to an OTT service from HBO. Of that group, 91% were currently pay-TV subscribers, and about half of them would cancel their pay-TV service after subscribing to the new OTT offering from HBO, Parks found.
International Business Times is also reporting that HBO and Apple are in talks to have the Apple TV serve as a launch partner for HBO Now. In addition to Apple TV, HBO GO, HBO's authenticated app for MVPD partners, already supports several other platforms, including 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.