While most were in the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco to see the latest developments in the ultra chic Apple Watch, the show was definitely stolen by an unlikely announcement about Apple TV. It’s been long overdue to get fresh news about what has been called Apple’s “hobby project,” but we certainly didn’t expect this… An exclusive arrangement with HBO to launch their stand alone streaming service, re-branded as HBO NOW, exclusively on Apple devices. It could’ve easily been “one more thing,” headline, but instead, Tim Cook practically led the show with it, and announced a new price of $69, to boot!
“All you need to get HBO Now is a broadband connection and an Apple device.” – HBO CEO Richard Plepler announcement during the Apple Spring Forward event
As early as last week, the entire interwebs was talking about HBO NOW’s launch and there was no mention of any exclusivity. HBO’s current companion streaming service, HBO GO, is available on numerous devices including the Roku, PlayStation, and a host of other platforms, but viewers have to have a cable subscription to use it. HBO NOW will be the stand alone service, which will launch with the 5th season of Game of Thrones on April 12th, and Apple will enjoy a 3 month exclusive window for the service before it seeds out to other platforms.
In addition, when users subscribe to the service during the month of April thru an Apple device, they will receive a free month, which HBO CEO Richard Plepler says should guarantee a fast rise in user subscriptions, especially with users of the Apple TV device. “We couldn’t be prouder, that Apple is our exclusive partner at launch,” Plepler said.
However, Apple TV is not the only way to enjoy HBO GO. Users will also be able to stream via the iPad, iPhone, or even the iPod. The subscription will give users access to HBO’s entire catalog of original series programming as well as a feature films. So it’s a pretty good deal and at $14.99, it’s only about $3 more than subscribing through a cable or satellite service.
Apple TV has become the category leader, selling more than 25 million devices so far. But today, we’d like to make it even more accessible to more people. – Tim Cook
Apple also announced that the Apple TV would enjoy a price cut of around 30%, dropping to $69. I would’ve preferred an upgrade that included some game play, as rumored last year. But the price drop is a welcome development, which Cupertino really needed to do since similar devices of that age are available through Roku in the $69 window. Hopefully, that means we’ll see a new Apple TV announced during the Worldwide Developers Conference or later in the fall during Apple’s annual push towards the holiday shopping season.
There was other news from the event, including more details on the Apple Watch (including a stunning $10,000 gold model) and also a refresh for the MacBook, which will offer Broadwell processors and a retina screen, but also a super thin design with a terraced battery and smaller logic board, that provides all day battery life without sacrificing performance (with fewer ports). But clearly, the show was stolen by the HBO NOW announcement. Will this make you want to buy an AppleTV and subscribe to HBO NOW? Leave a comment below.