Wait, don’t throw yourself out of your palace tower! I know your mother simultaneously destroyed your main squeeze and No. 1 religion, but two of the biggest premium cable networks are going to start livestreaming over the internet.
HBO and Cinemax will hit PlayStation Vue on October 2, and that means you can watch programs like Game of Thrones and Real Time with Bill Maher live as part of Sony’s web-based TV service. Vue is an app that enables its members to watch cable without having to subscribe through a traditional provider like Time Warner or Comcast. Instead, Vue beams a livefeed of its channels over your broadband internet connection. Vue is the first service to offer live HBO and Cinemax programming outside of the confines of a typical cable subscription. Each channel is $15 per month, and it includes access to the HBO Now service, which is the Netflix-style app that serves up the network’s shows on-demand across devices like gaming consoles, Roku boxes, and smart TVs. PlayStation Vue starts at $30 per month, but you don’t need to pay that to stream HBO and Cinemax through the service.
This is a major break away from the traditional model for HBO. The company was already charging $15 for HBO Now, but that didn’t include live broadcasts. Now, however, you can pay that same $15 through PlayStation Vue and you can get the on-demand video of HBO Now as well as the live versions of the channels without having to bundle with other networks. If you subscribe to HBO Now, you have no reason not to shift to do that through Sony.
As for PlayStation Vue, with its support of more than 100 networks, features like cloud DVR, and now access to live HBO, Sony has the most feature-rich TV-over-the-internet option. Consumers looking for an alternative could try Sling TV, but that similar program lacks many of the elemnts that are standard with PlayStation Vue — and you can’t get HBO.
“PlayStation has always been at the forefront of innovation and we are thrilled to build upon our partnership with them to meet the evolving demands of television audiences,” HBO digital-distribution boss Jeff Dallesandro said in a canned statement. “By expanding the ways that PlayStation users can access unparalleled programming like Game of Thrones, The Night Of, and Last Week Tonight, we’re demonstrating our commitment to flexibility and quality.”
While this move does show flexibility for HBO, it also reveals how savvy Sony is. HBO houses some of the few television programs that people consider “appointment viewing.” That is to say that some folks, even younger people who have never paid for a cable subscription in their lives, sit down on Sunday nights to watch Game of Thrones as soon as it is available on the HBO Now streaming program. But with the Vue partnership, people can subscribe to HBO for the same price and watch the show live or on-demand as well. And each time people log into Vue, they will see that they could maybe get ESPN, Comedy Central, and FX as well for an extra $30 per month.
“HBO’s award-winning content is a great match for the PlayStation audience, and the addition of HBO and Cinemax builds upon our commitment to bring the best of live and on demand TV to our users.” PlayStation Vue head Dwayne Benefield said in a statement. “PlayStation Vue continues to bring industry firsts to users who want a better way to watch TV, including being the first to offer HBO and Cinemax as live standalone channels. Our flexible subscription options offer more choices for consumers than ever before.”