The new season of Game of Thrones starts next month, and you know what that means: Cue the mad dash to secure someone’s HBO Go password in time. But for cord cutters (and cord never-getters) who want to tune in online, this year may mark the first time they’ve been able to do so without breaking the rules.
HBO is reportedly in talks with Apple to be the launch partner for its highly anticipated streaming service that wouldn’t require a cable subscription, according to International Business Times. HBO Now, as it’s allegedly being called, would cost $15/month and open up access to HBO’s film and TV titles to distributors like Apple TV and Roku.
HBO’s existing streaming app HBO Go is currently available only through a cable subscription. Last year, HBO announced that it would finally unbundle its streaming services from cable in 2015, and the HBO Now launch could be signals that HBO is making good on that promise.
It’s unclear how the HBO Now library would measure up to HBO Go’s current offerings, but the companies are reportedly trying to wrap up negotiations in time for the Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones next month. So it’s likely a safe bet that recent HBO content would be available through the Apple service.
At a price point that’s double the monthly fee for both Netflix and Hulu, the new service had better deliver on quantity, as both services offer robust streaming libraries of their own. However, while the quality of the content on those services can vary wildly, the HBO brand is known for its acclaimed original series like The Wire, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under.
Fans of HBO’s programming, who increasingly occupy a demographic that’s moving away from cable, have long craved a cable-free streaming service–but HBO has deflected the matter for years.
Presumably, the HBO Now launch must navigate the complexities of HBO’s longstanding relationship with cable carriers–Time Warner, HBO’s parent company, reportedly makes 70% of its profits from cable subscriptions. But if the current negotiations with Apple are successful, the Now service could be HBO’s first crack at making good on its promise to cord cutters.