Last week we talked about HBO Now, the cable channel's stand-alone streaming service. The quick recap is that HBO Now is a way to pay for access to HBO content without having a cable TV subscription.
The bad news (for some) in that announcement was that the service would only be available on Apple devices for the first three months. That window meant non-Apple, non-cable people would be left turning to illegitimate means of watching this season of the crazy-popular Game of Thrones series.
This wouldn't be anything new. Back in January Variety ran a post claiming that Game of Thrones was the most-pirated show of 2014, based on data from Excipio (followed closely by The Walking Dead). Given that fact, I thought it was an odd exclusivity deal for HBO to make.
And it turns out that maybe HBO thought so too, as the deal might not be as exclusive as it once appeared. Yesterday Cablevision announced that its Optimum Online Internet customers will also have access to HBO Now and they imply that it'll be available soon. The press release says "Optimum is the first cable provider to partner with HBO to offer the new service, which is expected to launch in April in time for the fifth season of Game of Thrones."
Cablevision doesn't mention a price, so it's even possible they'll be offering bundles or special offers to bring the cost lower than the $14.99/month price available through the iOS app. For example it's easy to imagine them bundling HBO Now into a deal for a faster Internet package for customers on lower speed tiers.
They also don't mention how their customers will be accessing the service. It is possible that they'll still be required to use Apple TV or an iOS device, in which case Apple's exclusivity window remains intact.
April is right around the corner and it'll be interesting to see if any other Internet providers come forward with a similar offer between now and then. Once the three month Apple window closes ISPs will be under a lot of pressure to undercut that $15 price. If you can hold out until then you might just wind up with a cheaper deal than you can get through the iOS offer.