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Standalone HBO Now subscriptions at 800,000, says network's CEO

Despite launching almost a year ago with a publicity boost by Apple, HBO Now currently has just 800,000 subscribers, the head of the premium network revealed on Wednesday.

"I wouldn't say only 800,000 subs," Richard Plepler commented during a Time Warner results call, as reported by Re/code. "We're just getting started... I think we're going to make a lot of progress."

Plepler argued that the service was doing well for something briefly limited by an exclusivity deal with Apple. When the service launched on April 7 last year, it was made exclusive to iOS devices and the third-generation Apple TV for a three-month period, coinciding with the fifth season of Game of Thrones. That kept it off Android devices during a critical period, as well as hardware like Rokus and the Google Chromecast.

Plepler said that in 2016 HBO will be making a bigger marketing push for Now, including highlighting new content from talent like Jon Stewart and Bill Simmons.

Until today the service's subscriber numbers were kept out of the public eye, possibly because HBO was anticipating more rapid adoption. U.S. audiences are increasingly turning to Internet-only video and abandoning cable and satellite TV, which are still HBO's lifeblood.

It's unknown whether HBO might be included in Apple streaming bundle rumored for later this year, but the network is already available through some other streaming providers, such as Sling TV.