If you want HBO Now, the only cable-free option for watching shows like Game of Thrones, you’re going to need Apple TV. During Apple’s live event Monday, HBO CEO Richard Plepler announced that the service will launch with Apple as its exclusive partner.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced a price cut for Apple TV, to $69 from $99. While a $30 price drop is considerable, it still means Apple TV costs more than competitors like Google’s Chromecast and the Roku stick.
This lofty price is why Apple TV adoption has tended to lag behind that of its rivals. In 2013, both Chromecast and Roku outsold Apple TV nearly 2 to 1. To catch up, Apple TV was going to need to either seriously improve its product—or snag an exclusive deal its competitors couldn’t get. With no new Apple TV on the horizon, it has clearly chosen the latter.
It’s not yet clear how long Apple’s exclusivity will extend. [Update: “The exclusive agreement with Apple is for three months among new digital distributors,” according to an HBO spokesperson.]
For HBO, restricting its cable-free option to Apple only isn’t any more limiting than the previous business model, which only allowed customers to watch streaming shows if they also had a cable plan (or friends or family with one).
HBO Now will be priced at $14.99 a month and offer access to HBO’s complete library of original shows. Plepler added that customers who sign up in April will get a free month.
Image courtesy of Apple