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All you need to know about HBO’s new HBO Now streaming service

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HBO Now is almost here: HBO officially announced plans to launch its online-only streaming service dubbed HBO Now during Apple’s spring event Monday, and promptly managed to confuse everyone with an exclusive that isn’t quite exclusive and a price that’s not set in stone.

Time to clarify a few things:

What HBO Now is: Think of it as HBO’s answer to Netflix – an online streaming service that gives you access to HBO’s programming, whether you subscribe to cable or not.

The launch date: HBO announced Monday that HBO will be available in early April, or in time for the Game of Thrones season premiere, which is on April 12.

The price: HBO Now will cost $14.99 if you sign up through Apple. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone will be paying $14.99 for the service. “Prices may vary by participating partners,” the HBO Now FAQ states. That’s because HBO Now may soon also be available though your cable or internet company, which may decide to give you a deal that looks a lot more like HBO’s current pricing. $10 a month, for example, if you sign up for a certain broadband service tier for 12 months.

The devices: At launch, HBO Now will be available on iPhones and iPads as well as Apple TV and the web. Additional devices are supposed to follow soon, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for Chromecast and other devices during the first three months due to an exclusive deal between Apple and HBO.


Where to sign up: At launch, likely the only way to get HBO Now will be to download the service’s iOS app on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV and sign up from within the app. Apple got a three-month exclusive deal for HBO Now — with an important exception: Internet and pay TV providers will be able to launch their own HBO Now deals within that time period, but none of those deals have been announced yet. Or as the HBO Now FAQ puts it: “We are in discussions with our existing network of distributors that sell broadband and hope to announce such relationships soon.” And after the three months are over, it’s likely that Google, Amazon and others will start selling HBO Now as well.

Where not to sign up: On HBO Now’s home page. This isn’t a direct-to-consumer service, which is the biggest difference to Netflix. HBO still wants others to handle the billing and customer relationships, and has no intention to ask you for your credit card any time soon. “No, a subscription directly through HBO is not something that is currently in our plans,” said a HBO spokesperson when I asked her specifically about this.

What you’ll be watching: HBO Now promises “instant access to every episode of every season of the best of HBO’s award-winning original programming,” which means you’ll be able to binge on Game of Thrones, Girls, True Detective, Veep and more. The service will also offer Hollywood movies after they air in the theaters, documentaries, sports and comedy specials. Oh yeah, and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight will be part of the mix as well. All in all, HBO Now will have more than 2000 episodes of content at launch, according to Monday’s announcement.

What you won’t be watching: Anything live. HBO Now is a pure on-demand service, and won’t carry a live feed of HBO’s cable programming. That also means you won’t be able to tune in live to any of HBO’s boxing games.

What about the rest of the world: HBO Now will only be available in the U.S. at launch — expect your streams to be blocked when you travel abroad as well. However, HBO operates in over 60 countries around the world, and there’s no reason that HBO Now couldn’t eventually expand as well. Again, from the FAQ: “We are exploring international opportunities and will provide updates as available.”


22 Responses to “All you need to know about HBO’s new HBO Now streaming service”

  1. ellem

    Now that it’s rolled out through iTunes, Viasat is also apparently a “region” that HBONow is blocking for some unknown but surely not nefarious, anticompetitive reason. I’ve been trying to find a work around so I don’t have to use a slower network but can’t find any fixes or info on this glitch yet.

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  3. TaRena Furr

    What difference is it than HBO Go if you have to have a service provider Other than you get charged for it? I guess I may be missing something. I just don’t see an advantage.

  4. Justiin

    So annoying, the reason I don’t have HBO today is because I have to have a cable subscription first, which is way too expensive. So, HBO decided to instead make it so I have to either buy an Apple TV or pay a higher premium on my internet service? Why not run this whole program like Netflix? Keep it free from the burdens of additional fees so the consumer can get what they want! I’ll never understand their logic. They already have HBOGO that could easily be adapted to be made publicly available at only 10$ a month, you know…the same price as Netflix. Why do this? Seriously, Why make us pay more? What is the point? HBO doesn’t make more money by going through other providers. They need to get with the program and cut out the middle man.

  5. MikeFS6

    I find the pricing model to be reasonable. I understand where there going with the product/service. HBO will and/or could follow the steps of providing content similar to Netflix as they’ve done with original series like House of Cards, Marco Polo,Penny Dreadful.

  6. Caligirl

    It is ironic that the HBOnow name is misleading. Since it isn’t really isn’t “now” it could confuse, irritate or turn off new an perspective purchasers. If it’s not “now,” then why name it that? The good ones must have been taken (like HBO on Demand). Dumb, dumb, dumb name.

  7. mysticjeddai

    Sign up for a Time Period? 3 mos. 6 mos. 1 yr.? Can quit anytime? What about through ROKU? Was trying to avoid APPLETV as they do not have my AMAZON MOVIE or MUSIC available like ROKU does. Just wondering. Thank you for doing this HBO, “GAME OF THRONES” is my current favorite short series.