HBO is reportedly prepping a standalone version of its HBO GO TV everywhere app, tentatively entitled HBO Now—with Apple TV and others reportedly in talks to carry the service. If so it'll be a direct shot across the bow to Netflix—and a turning point in its relationships with traditional pay-TV provider.
The content firm already offers a standalone subscription streaming service in the Nordics, but in the United States the move is breathtakingly notable—the vast majority of the premium channel's domestic revenue comes from its distribution partnerships with cable MSOs, satellite players and IPTV providers.
As an over-the-top (OTT) offering, HBO Now will directly compete with those partners, unless some caveats are made in terms of what content will be included. And for cord-cutters, gaining standalone access to HBO is yet another reason to walk away from traditional pay-TV.
According to Bloomberg, the service will cost the same as the pay-TV-bundled version of HBO, about $15 per month.For its part, HBO said that it is targeting the 10 million broadband subscribers who don't have cable or satellite. Apple TV will likely be the first partner to launch the app, the news service reported, but TiVo also confirmed that it is in talks with HBO.
And to boot, cable ISPs Cox Communications and Cablevision —which are also TV providers—are in talks to bundle the app with broadband, but those talks are "more complex," sources said, for obvious reasons, so it may take a bit longer for those offerings to come to market.
It's likely that cablecos will drop their prices for the channel via promos in a direct competitive bid to hang onto their subscribers. And in fact, several already have. Notably, Comcast has lowered its monthly HBO rate from $18.95 to $15, or $10 if you order online. Verizon's offering HBO for $9.99 per month for first 12; Time Warner Cable is offering $9.99 per month for online orders; and Cox is offering $10/month for the first six.