'Game of Thrones' Season 5 is here. Time to spring for HBO Now?

HBO Now made its debut Tuesday for Apple TV and Cablevision’s Optimum Online service Tuesday, just in time for the Season 5 premiere of 'Game of Thrones,' its most pirated show. 

HBO/AP/April 9, 2015
A subscription to HBO Now provides HBO programming without cable or satellite TV. Thus product image provided by HBO shows the HBO Now Apple TV app. For the first time, Americans will be able to subscribe to HBO without a cable or satellite TV subscription. (AP Photo/HBO) HBO NOw

Just in time for Season 5 of “Game of Thrones,” HBO Now has hit the market, offering, for the first time, the chance for customers to legally access the network without a cable subscription.

The stand-alone Web streaming service was released Tuesday for Apple TV and Cablevision’s Optimum Online service. It is also available via devices that use Apple’s iOS operating system, such as iPhones and iPads.

HBO Now is available for a monthly subscription of $14.99. Customers who sign up now get a 30-day trial for free.

According to the company, HBO Now offers more than 2,000 titles for immediate viewing, including current series like “Game of Thrones,” which returns for its fifth season April 12, and previous series like “Deadwood,” “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”

HBO Now will be similar to HBO Go, the mobile and Web streaming app already available to HBO cable subscribers.

The release of the stand-alone app is a departure for the network, which built its market share on movies but, over the past decade or so, has become just as well known for original programming unfettered by FCC regulations on things like profanity and nudity.

Since its debut, fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” has consistently been ranked the most illegally downloaded show on television. In many online forums, fans have expressed their willingness to pay for episodes of the show, if they could do so without a cable subscription.

That’s a reality that networks and cable providers are being forced to embrace, as a small but growing segment of Web users have begun to rely on streaming devices like the Roku or Google’s Chromecast, along with products like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.

Sling TV debuted in February, offering a bundle of channels including ESPN, CNN and AMC for a monthly fee.

Apple is reported to be working on its own streaming service, which could debut as early as this fall, and other networks, like Nickelodeon, have released their own stand-alone streaming apps.

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