Cord cutters who want to watch Game of Thrones‘ season 5 premiere on Sunday, April 12 won’t have to buy an Apple TV after all.
Sling TV, a new streaming video service that offers cable channels in small bundles, will add HBO as a $15-per-month option later this month. That’s on top of the $20 per month that Sling charges for its basic 20-channel package. Sling says HBO will arrive in time for Game of Thrones on April 12, but it hasn’t given an exact launch date.
HBO on Sling TV will behave the same way it does through a traditional cable or satellite TV provider, with one live channel and a selection of on-demand video. Sling hasn’t said whether whether subscribers will get access to HBO Go, a separate app for existing HBO subscribers that includes the network’s full on-demand catalog.
Either way, Sling TV’s offering is separate from HBO Now, a standalone streaming service that will also cost $15 per month. HBO is aiming this service at people who don’t have a regular pay-TV subscription, with Apple as the exclusive “non-pay TV provider” at launch. While HBO is also shopping the HBO Now service around to other pay-TV providers, the details of these arrangements are unclear, and so far only Cablevision is on board. This likely means you’ll have to use an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, or web browser to access HBO Now when Game of Thrones arrives.
Sling TV, meanwhile, has apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox One, Mac, and PC. HBO will work across all of these platforms.
Why this matters: Cord cutting naysayers might balk at the $35-per-month minimum that Sling is requiring to get HBO. But that’s still cheaper than cable in many cases, and it comes without all the unfair equipment fees and unannounced price increases you get from a traditional pay-TV provider. Even if it’s not the cheapest path to HBO, it’s just one more way for people to get the shows they want without paying for hundreds of unwanted channels.