Apple may have a short-term exclusive on HBO Now, the new stand-alone streaming app that lets viewers access the network’s live and on-demand movies and award-winning original series, but it’s not the only game in town for those looking to stream HBO online without a cable or satellite subscription. Announced by Dish Network today, HBO is now available as an add-on channel for Sling TV subscribers. Sling TV will also be rolling out an update to its app that brings new features, including parental controls and helpful search guides.
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Sling TV had originally planned to launch the service on April 8, 2015, likely to answer HBO Now’s launch on Apple devices like the now-$69 Apple TV, however the service apparently reconsidered and pushed back the launch, apparently to coincide with an app update that, among other things, is intended to provide a more stable viewing experience during heavy use periods. This move may have been precipitated by reports of service dropouts some viewers experienced while streaming the NCAA Final Four games last Saturday.
But, things apparently move fast over at Sling TV headquarters, and as of this morning, HBO went live on Sling TV, ahead of the planned Saturday launch.
While the HBO channel costs $15 on its own, it is important to note that access to Sling TV requires subscribing to Sling’s $20 core package, which offers channels like ESPN, AMC, TNT, TBS, and IFC, among several others, bringing the total cost of access to $35. Unlike cable and satellite TV, though, Sling TV requires no contracts or other commitments, can be cancelled any time, and is easily accessed from multiple devices, including Roku boxes and Roku TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick, Xbox One, iOS and Android mobile devices, Macs and PCs.
Along with the addition of HBO, Sling is also updating its app with the addition of parental controls across all of its channels, and mini guides that are intended to make it easier for viewers to find shows based on subject and genre (on Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku players, Roku TV models and Xbox One only).
HBO’s rapidly expanding presence into the Web TV space may serve as a bellwether for other premium networks and cable-only channels. If HBO’s campaign is successful, we may well see some fast followers, including Showtime, Starz, and others.