HBO launched a new streaming service this week, HBO Now, exclusively on Apple TV, iOS, and Optimum Online.
HBO Now is a standalone service that differs from HBO GO in that an existing cable subscription is not required to sign up. The service costs $15 a month. HBO has not yet announced their timeline to make HBO Now available on other platforms.
Though HBO doesn’t have quite the volume of content that Netflix and Hulu Plus boasts, it does have one thing that its competitors often struggle with delivering on: quality programming. From “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective” to “Last Week Tonight” and “The Wire,” HBO makes up for a lack of Hulu’s major network offerings and Netflix’s smattering of indie movies and “House of Cards” with an arsenal of undeniable quality content.
If I had the choice to subscribe to either Netflix or HBO Now (in this scenario I own an Apple product), I can’t say it would be an easy decision. Not only does HBO have awesome original programming, they often get exclusive access to stream great new and classic movies that you can’t find anywhere else online legally, such as “Edge of Tomorrow” and “The Shining.” Ultimately, the quality of HBO Now’s content library will justify its price of admission for many people, people who are hopefully in possession of an Apple TV or iPhone.
I don’t know how much Apple paid HBO to keep HBO Now exclusive to its own products, but it must have been a lot, because I can’t foresee a way in which HBO limiting its business makes financial sense for them. Perhaps the stigma that Android users don’t pay for anything was a factor. Or Apple really just paid them a boatload of money. In any case, HBO Now’s FAQ assures that we will see support for additional devices “soon,” which is at least an acknowledgement of potential customers on HBO’s part. Considering Sling TV’s recent launch on several devices, including the Roku and Kindle Fire TV, it’s critical that HBO Now be available on a wider variety of platforms as soon as possible.
That said, if you are the owner of an Apple product, and you are perplexingly not rich enough to have a cable subscription (or you have no relatives from whom to acquire an HBO GO password), there’s really no reason not to get onboard with HBO Now. Although I wish it were available on more platforms, I can’t deny the joy it will bring to the people already in Apple’s ecosystem. Go watch “True Detective” if you haven’t seen it. Seriously, just watch the eight episodes right now. I promise you you won’t regret it.