If ever there was a test for the reliability of a Web-based streaming service, it’s the season premiere of a show like Game of Thrones. You’re guaranteed to have a ton of anxious fans attempting to watch all at once – that show isn’t one you simply wait until later to catch up on. And judging from last night’s season five premiere, HBO’s new $15/month standalone streaming service, HBO Now, did a pretty good job handling the load of last night’s season 5 premiere.
The service launched exclusively through Apple devices (and a few Cablevision customers in New York) last week — just in time for the premiere of Game of Thrones, as well as the new hit, Silicon Valley. Like its predecessor HBO Go, HBO Now lets subscribers watch virtually every show in HBO’s catalog, including Game of Thrones. And unlike HBO Go, it’s completely autonomous from any cable/satellite subscription package, requiring no authentication.
The Consumerist reports that there were no noticeable issues with HBO Now, but for a few Twitter complaints here and there. This leads one to believe that the premiere was smooth sailing for the majority of users.
This is in stark contrast to past streaming options that have had to contend with high demand events, and failed, including Sling TV’s recent apologies to its budding user base for being unable to handle the NCAA Final Four. And interestingly enough, HBO Go, which has been on the market for the past five years, created a pile of Twitter complaints from users during the broadcast, particularly with access through the Xbox One gaming console. While there are a lot more users still accessing HBO Go then HBO Now due to the latter service’s device restrictions and new-kid-on-the-block status, it’s surprising that HBO Go is still having trouble this late in the game in comparison to its new compatriot.
The issues with HBO Go, which all but exploded during last year’s Game of Thrones premiere, may be a big reason HBO decided to outsource the building of the new HBO Now app to MLB Advanced Media. And, apart from what we’d imagine must have been a truckload of money from Apple, it’s also a good reason to keep HBO Now on select devices from Apple for now. That way, HBO gets to monitor its new service, build on successes, and assure no monstrous disasters take place as its precious new standalone service rolls out.
That aside, it looks like HBO has a win on its hands with HBO Now, as far as last night’s limited test is concerned, anyway. Again, we do have to keep in mind that the service has far fewer subscribers than the five-year-old HBO Go service right now, which will mean much cleaner pipes through which to stream the content.
Still, it’s good news for streaming services on the whole, as HBO Now has proven just as reliable as traditional linear TV to get you caught up on your favorite program without any crash and burns…on your side of the screen, at least.