Apple TV drops price and scoops HBO Now for Game of Thrones

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 10 March 2015

Slipping under the radar in the wake of the launch of the CE firm's new watch, Apple has dropped the price to $69 of its Apple TV set-top box which will be the first platform to offer the HBO Now over-the-top (OTT) service.

The price cut makes the hardware more competitive with Roku and Google's Chromecast. Apple TV is now three years old without a refresh, although a new version is supposedly in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, HBO CEO Richard Pleper has announced that, as expected, Apple will be the exclusive launch partner for the standalone streaming service which will be priced at $15/month. In a move that has alarmed HBO's existing cable pay-TV partners, the Apple TV OTT service has been timed to include the fifth season of Game of Thrones. HBO NOW will also offer more than 2,000 titles online including True Detective, Silicon Valley, Girls, Veep and The Leftovers, as well as classics like The Sopranos, Sex and the City, True Blood, The Wire and Deadwood.

Apple exclusivity with HBO is a clear differentiator for Apple devices , according to analysis from Tim Westcott and Dan Cryan from IHS Technology.

"Consumption is moving away from the PC towards other forms of connected devices (notably devices that connect to the TV and tablets)," said Cryan. "In this context, Apple's exclusivity is a big deal as, at least for the moment, it means that there is a clear point of differentiation for Apple devices."

However, he noted that the lesson from Netflix is that to grow a digital customer base, one has to reach consumers on the devices where they choose to consume content. HBO Now will also be available via an iOS app and the Web, for instance.

"Consequently we don't expect this exclusivity to remain over the long term, unless HBO is heavily compensated," he said.