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HBO Now Is Coming to Verizon Wireless and Its 100 Million Customers

A big push for the Web-only service.

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 another big shot in the arm for HBO Now, the service that lets you pay for HBO without buying any other TV subscriptions: Verizon is going to sell the service directly to its 100 million Verizon Wireless customers.

Depending on how aggressively Verizon pushes HBO Now — and Verizon is one of the country’s top marketers — the deal could be as big for HBO as its pact to give Apple a three-month exclusive when it launched the service last spring.

Since then HBO has added other digital distributors, including Amazon and Google’s Android, but besides Cablevision, it hasn’t added any other pipe owners — cable TV providers like Comcast have been distinctly unenthusiastic about the plan.

HBO would like the Comcasts of the world to get on board with HBO Now — and it would also like Comcast et al to renegotiate their existing distribution deals. But if Verizon really leans in on this, it might be fine without them.

A few details: Verizon’s Fios broadband customers can sign up for HBO Now today, and they’ll get the standard $15/month pricing and 30-day free trial HBO has offered everywhere else. The company doesn’t say when wireless customers can get it, but I would assume it would come online this fall, along with HBO’s new shows.

Verizon’s press release also suggests that HBO — specifically, “HBO content” — will also be coming to the new “over the top” video service it is planning for its wireless service, but that’s a bit deceptive. HBO Now won’t be a core part of Verizon’s new service, since that one will be free and ad-supported. Instead, HBO may distribute some of its shows as samplers on the service — the same way it already does on free video platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

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