Resisting the success of Netflix was becoming difficult for HBO. As cord-cutting gained momentum, traditional cable companies, still trapped inside the 20th century model of programming, needed to embrace the Internet.
The sea change came with an announcement by HBO to offer a standalone online streaming service without requiring a cable subscription. The company already had a streaming service called HBO Go, which offered select programs to cable subscribers. CBS quickly followed HBO and announced its own service, CBS All Access.
These moves changed market dynamics forever, and now it’s only a matter of time that the rest of the industry will follow suit.
HBO offers online-only service
HBO debuted its online-only HBO Now service with the premiere of Season 5 of Game of Thrones (GoT), with Apple winning the throne of exclusivity. The two companies signed a deal to offer HBO Now exclusively to Apple customers. You needed an iOS devices or Apple TV to register for the service, but once you were registered, you could also access the service through a PC.
We Android users (though I have the iPad Air 2, so I was able to register and watch Season 5 of GoT) were left high and dry. But now that’s changed.
The exclusive deal between Apple and HBO has expired, and the company has launched HBO Now for Android and Amazon Fire devices.
If you have rooted your Android devices, however, I have bad news for you: HBO Now is currently not supported on such devices. You won’t be able to access the service if you are using a custom ROM. The review page for the app in the Play Store is full of user complaints about rooted devices. This comment reflects what many users are experiencing:
Dear HBO. I love your content. I so desperately want to pay for your content. Too bad you think me a pirate because I root my device. Newsflash. My device being unbound to typical restraints has NOTHING to do with piracy. You will not be receiving my $15 a month until you reverse course on being anti-root. It is amazing how many pirates you will truly create from such a policy.
I have no idea whether HBO will change its mind, because its older services, HBO Go and Max Go, also don’t support rooted devices and custom ROM. I do know that support for Chromecast and other devices is coming soon. In a press release HBO said, "HBO Now is also soon to be Google Cast-enabled and available soon on Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick."
If you are running an unrooted device (or you can unroot yours), you can download the app from the Google Play store and register for the service. The only way to access the service is by registering from the official app; you can’t do it from a web browser. You need an Android OS 4.1-plus phone or tablet or Fire tablet to register. Once registered, you can watch the programming on your computer. HBO is offering a free 30-day trial and will then charge $14.99 per month to stream all HBO content.
One Google platform that's missing from this announcement is Chrome OS. Though users can easily stream it on a Chromebook by switching the user agent, I still wonder when the HBO service will officially arrive to Chrome OS devices.
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