Gone are the days when a cable TV subscription – or a borrowed HBO Go account – were prerequisites to watching “Game of Thrones” or “True Detective.” HBO Now, the company’s stand-alone Internet streaming service, launched Tuesday on Apple TV and CableVision’s Optimum Internet service, which operates in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
If you have an Apple TV, or CableVision Optimum Internet, you can get full access to current HBO shows and the network’s back catalog of series and movies, no cable TV subscription required. HBO Now offers a 30-day free trial, after which it will cost $14.99 per month.
Apple is the exclusive nationwide carrier for HBO Now at the moment, but the subscription service will almost certainly make its way to other streaming platforms, such as Amazon’s Fire TV and Google’s Chromecast, in the coming months. Sling TV, a subscription service offered by Dish Network, will also offer an Internet-only HBO subscription for $15 per month, although its service will take the form of a live HBO feed (rather than on-demand access to shows) and HBO Now’s catalog of series and movies.
The launch of HBO Now comes ahead of the highly anticipated premiere of Season 5 of “Game of Thones,” and HBO and Apple are hoping that fans of the fantasy epic will take advantage of HBO Now to watch. HBO chief executive officer Richard Plepler introduced the streaming service last month at the launch event for the Apple Watch, and even unveiled a new “Game of Thrones” trailer at that event. Since HBO Now offers a month-long free trial, “Game of Thones” fans can watch the first few episodes without paying anything at all.
Current Apple TV owners can stream HBO Now to as many as three Apple devices at once – so you could watch “Game of Thrones” on the big screen, “Silicon Valley” on an iPad, and a movie on a third device. That’s the same implementation as HBO Go, the Internet streaming service that’s available on many more devices, but that requires a cable subscription to use.
The Apple TV’s price recently dropped from $99 to $69, which brings it more in line with inexpensive streaming devices such as the Chromecast and the Fire TV Stick. Between the less-expensive Apple TV and the free-for-a-month HBO Now service, the initial barrier to attaining an HBO subscription is as low as it’s ever been.