Apple’s “Spring Forward” event is underway and first thing on the agenda was Apple TV. No, there’s no new hardware just yet, but Tim Cook had a couple of big announcements to get you excited about the now ageing set-top box.
As it turns out, the rumor mill was spot on about Apple being a launch partner for HBO Now. The service, which cord cutters have been clamouring for for ages, is launching exclusively on Apple TV as well as the iPhone and iPad as soon as next month. As expected, the service will be priced at $14.99 per month, with the first month free if you subscribe by April.
“We love HBO,” Cook said. "They’ve created groundbreaking new shows that have shaped our culture, like the Sopranos, Entourage, and Sex and the City. On April 12, Veep and Silicon Valley come back, along with Game of Thrones."
Though not mentioned explicitly, we're guessing HBO Now will be limited to the US. The current HBO Go app on Apple TV devices is US-only, meaning paying HBO subscribers (through a traditional cable provider) in other countries are stuck with streaming to Apple TV over Airplay via the mobile HBO Go apps. This time around, though, you might be able to get around it with a VPN -- wink, wink.
We're also left wondering just how long the HBO Now exclusivity window will be. (Update: Apple will have the online exclusive for three months, though HBO Now may still come to existing pay-TV partners before that.)
Tim Cook pointed out how the Apple TV has come a long way to become a category leader with 25 million units sold. But they want to make it more accessible -- likely in the face of increased competition or in anticipation to new hardware coming later this year. To that end the device is getting a considerable price cut which will bring the entry price from $99 down to $69.