Apple in talks to become launch partner for cable-free HBO Now service

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Apple is in negotiations to make the Apple TV a launch destination for HBO's standalone streaming service reportedly called "HBO Now," which could launch in time for the fifth season of Game of Thrones premiering April 12, according to a new report.

Plans to launch a streaming service independent of a cable or satellite subscription have been public knowledge since October. Until now, though, there was no name attached, or any pricing or availability details.

But on Wednesday, a new report from the International Business Times claimed that the service, said to be known as "HBO Now," will cost $15 per month — about as much as viewers would pay a cable company, though providers often force customers to pay for additional bundles if they want HBO.

Apple has allegedly been "most aggressive" in trying to secure an Apple TV deal. The set-top box is already one of the homes to HBO Go, which requires an authenticated subscription through cable providers, but it's believed that Apple could add a second app for HBO Now.

HBO's development partner on the service is said to be Major League Baseball Advanced Media. That company is reportedly building both the back-end and the front-end, but with some leeway on its deadlines so HBO executives can be sure the service works at launch.

During last year's season premiere of Game of Thrones, the on-demand HBO Go service collapsed under network traffic. That left some people waiting hours or days before they could stream the fourth season's first episode.

Apart from the Apple TV, HBO Now will likely appear on other platforms where HBO already has a presence, such as Roku and Xbox. It could have a significant impact on the cable and satellite industry, which has leveraged networks like HBO and sports channels to deter people from jumping ship to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.


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