from the great-Apple-wall-of-the-north dept
For many years, HBO was hesitant to offer a truly stand alone streaming service, fearing disruption of the cozy, promotion and subsidy-laden relationships it has with cable operators. Late last year HBO finally announced it would offer a standalone HBO service, but didn't provide any hard details.
The good news? HBO has formally announced that it's launching "HBO Now" next month for a $15 monthly fee. The bad news (for some)? The service is going to be an Apple exclusive at launch, meaning that while you can access the service via iOS devices, you're out of luck if you'd like to use the service on a game console, Roku player, Chromecast, or any of the myriad other competing streaming devices. And while you will be able to watch HBO Now content via the new website and any old browser, you can apparently only register for the service using Apple's HBO Now app and an iOS device.
This resulted in many people correctly noting customers are being herded from one walled garden to another:
The press release can't be bothered to mention this, but the exclusive is only for three months, after which HBO Now will be made available on all the usual platforms. Cable providers may also jump in and pitch the service, though many will likely worry they'll only act to cannibalize existing cable subscribers. In other words, we're not exactly talking about the end of the world here, and HBO Now is still part of a welcome sea change toward more standalone streaming options in 2015. If you're still annoyed, just pretend Apple users are beta-testing the service and ironing out the wrinkles ahead of your arrival this summer.
Still, while the exclusive surely nets Apple a nice cash payout, being greeted by a giant wall isn't a great first HBO Now brand impression for Android, Xbox, Playstation, Chromecast or Roku users. Being greeted by that same giant wall also isn't going to do much to keep the "most pirated TV show on television" from being downloaded via BitTorrent. HBO Now's still a welcome change, it's just a shame its market entry has to be polluted by unnecessary, annoying boundaries just to fatten Apple's wallet.