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HBO on the Web Is Coming in April, Exclusively From Apple

It will be available in time for the April 12 "Game of Thrones" debut.
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Here’s a surprise: HBO’s streaming service will only be available via Apple when it launches next month. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the service would only be available via Apple TV. Apple says the service will work with other Apple devices as well.)

HBO CEO Richard Plepler announced the news at the Apple Watch event this morning. The product will be called HBO Now, and will cost $14.99 a month. It will be available in time for the April 12 “Game of Thrones” debut, Plepler said.

The launch date and pricing aren’t news. But HBO was expected to launch its standalone service along with other streaming partners, like Roku, Amazon and Microsoft’s Xbox. HBO has also been talking to pay-TV distributors. I would assume at least some additional outlets will come online sooner than later.

Update: Apple will have the online exclusive for three months, HBO says. HBO Now may still come to existing pay-TV partners before that, though.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also said the company is cutting its price on its Apple TV box, from $99 to $69. I don’t think that’s significant, but it is a sign that this is probably all Apple will have to say about TV stuff this morning.

Here’s the script for Plepler’s announcement, provided via HBO PR:

Thank you Tim and good morning everyone. On behalf of everyone at HBO, let me return your compliment by saying that we love Apple and all the extraordinary products which have captured the imagination of so many people around the world.

We are thrilled to be here this morning to announce our standalone streaming service HBO NOW and we couldn’t be prouder that Apple is our exclusive partner at launch.

When you subscribe to HBO NOW you will have access to all our acclaimed original programming — past, present and future — as well as our unmatched lineup of Hollywood blockbusters.

All you need to get HBO NOW is a broadband connection and an Apple device.

There will be a brand new HBO NOW channel on Apple TV so you can enjoy it on the big screen or you can watch HBO NOW on your iPhones and iPads.

We will introduce our new product in early April for $14.99 a month if you subscribe in April you will get the first month free and have it in time for the April 12th premiere of our global phenomenon Game of Thrones.

As Tim graciously mentioned earlier HBO is known for great content so I thought it would be fun for this room and you watching to have an exclusive look at a brand new Game of Thrones trailer to give you a feel for what I promise will be an extraordinary new season.

This is a transformative moment for HBO and we are excited to introduce HBO NOW to all of you today.

Enjoy the trailer.

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