Hbo lancia un nuovo servizio in partnership con Apple, Hbo Now, che sarà sul mercato ad aprile. Una delle più popolari tv via cavo statunitensi, dà la possibilità a chi ha un Iphone, Ipad o Apple tv di vedere i programmi e le serie tv Hbo senza sottoscrivere un pacchetto di abbonamento alla rete.
Il servizio è fornito in esclusiva con Apple per tre mesi. Per accedere basterà scaricare un’applicazione dall’Apple store. In questo modo Hbo punta a contrastare la crisi della tv via cavo e a raggiungere più velocemente i consumatori più giovani.
Anyone who has HBO Go – the channel’s current streaming service that allows cable subscribers to watch any of their original programming any time they want – has probably watched an episode of Game of Thrones on an iPad or an episode of Sex and the City on an iPhone. Those that want to sign up for HBO Now, a similar streaming service that launches in April, which customers can buy independent of a cable package, will have very similar experiences, since Apple is HBO’s exclusive partner for the first three months of the program.
That means those that want to find out which city Khaleesi burns down next will only be able to find out on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. (Think it’s a coincidence that this service launches in April and Game of Thrones premieres 12 April?) Until July, those interested in the service will have to download an app from Apple and sign up for their account through them.
This is a smart move for everyone involved. HBO manages to avert the fears of the cable industry (which still does a majority of their billing) by not offering their service directly to consumers. Apple gets even more clout and, possibly, might sell a few more Apple TV’s in the process.
But device sales are small peanuts when you look at the long-term range of where television is heading. The cable companies’ fears might be allayed now, but the era of cord cutting is definitely happening. Only 2.9% of cable users say they’re likely to get rid of their service this year, according to a recent study, but 49% of cable users ages 25 to 34 say they’re likely to get rid of cable. That means the demographics of cable users will be about the same as those who watch Blue Bloods or eat dinner before 5pm. That is not who advertisers crave – nor will they be around in 2060 to keep paying for 1,000 channels they don’t watch.
Right now someone can get by with subscriptions to HBO Now, Netflix, Hulu Plus and an iTunes season pass to another show or two and see just about everything they want to see (unless they’re a big sports fan). The problem is this all gets confusing and difficult to watch on an actual television. Finding which programs are on what services and when can be a hassle. Then there is the matter of paying a handful of individual fees, which isn’t so hard with credit card auto-billing, but is confusing when trying to keep that bank balance hovering above zero like so many young people do.
The real future of cable is going to be whoever figures out the one ring to rule them all. If there was a device – like Apple TV or Roku – that could combine all of these (including YouTube, Vimeo, Amazon Prime, Yahoo Screen, CBS’s upcoming streaming service and everyone else offering up original content these days) under one roof, that would be the killer app for the cable industry.
That seems like what Apple is trying to accomplish with this HBO deal. If there is one company powerful enough to unite all of these disparate parties under one deal, it’s Apple. It provides all of these servicesto more customers, and Apple takes a cut from the fees that you pay to each.
But know what that sounds a lot like? It is essentially your current cable package, where you pay Time Warner or Verizon one lump sum, and they dole out money to the participating cable channels. There might be more customization and availability of on-demand content in the future, but it seems like this snake is going to end up eating its own tail. Juggling a dozen different options for streaming services is just too much for average consumers, who only want to watch their favorite shows as easily as they can.
Apple might not be the company to ultimately accomplish this, but someone will, and whoever it is will make boatloads of money. Cutting the cord now might be a very wise idea, but I’d bet that there will be another cord coming in our near future.