Within the first few minutes of the I/O 2015 developer conference today, Google’s Senior Vice President, Sundar Pichai, announced HBO Now is coming to Android TV and Chromecast. The announcement marks the end of a 7 week exclusive that Apple had on HBO’s stand-alone streaming and on-demand video service.
The launch of HBO Now last April marked a turning point in the streaming TV space as it was the first premium cable network to offer its content without the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription. When it launched, it was made available only to users of Apple devices such as Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. HBO Now subscriptions are priced at $15 a month.
Now that HBO Now will be coming to Chromecast and Android TV users, the service’s subscriber base will likely surge. HBO Now has never disclosed subscriber numbers, but it seems to have attracted a significant user base — HBO even had to crack down on users outside the U.S. But by opening up the service to anyone who already owns or is willing to pay for Google’s $30 streaming dongle, along with a potential reduction in subscription price, both HBO Now and Chromecast stand to see a boost in popularity.
Of course, the Chromecast is already doing very well. According to Google, over 17 million Chromecasts have been sold to date, with 1.5 billion cast button touches, and 20,000 cast apps available. Some rumors were swirling around that Google might also introduce a new Chromecast at I/O 2015, but no such device materialized. Instead, Google released new APIs today that will enable a host of new features for the streamer, including an enhanced gaming experience.
Android TV, on the other hand, has seen a slow start since it was first announced at last year’s I/O developer conference, but it made big moves during CES 2015, when it was announced Sony would ditch its own smart TV interface for Android TV, as would Sharp and Philips. With the addition of HBO Now, and new TV sets with Android TV baked in, the platform might become a major player in the smart TV space yet.
Update by Caleb Denison – 5/28: This article has been edited to note that no revision to Chromecast was announced at the I/O conference.