Apple's exclusive launch of HBO Now just became a little less exclusive.
HBO and Cablevision said Monday they would launch the premium network's online-only streaming service HBO Now through the cable provider's Optimum Online Internet service.
That means more people than just Apple device owners will be able to sign up for the service that will stream HBO movies and shows solely via the Internet -- if they live in the greater New York metropolitan area served by Cablevision. It will also make Cablevision the first pay-TV provider to offer HBO Now, even though it creates a route for its video service customers to become "cord cutters" -- people who forsake cable or satellite TV service in favor of purely online television viewing.
As consumer viewing habits are shifting to mobile devices and online options, networks like HBO and pay-TV providers like Cablevision are experimenting with Internet-based television services despite how these offerings could undermine their core business of pay-TV subscriptions.
It comes a week after electronics giantthrough its Apple TV over-the-top box, iPad tablet and iPhone. That deal was an exclusive among "new digital distributors," meaning people who use rival devices to watch Internet video on their televisions -- like Roku, Google's Chromecast and Microsoft's Xbox -- won't be able to sign up and stream through the new service for three months after the April launch date.
Cablevision serves about 3 million total customers in the greater New York metropolitan area, including 2.8 million Optimum Online broadband customers. By comparison, Comcast -- the biggest cable company in the US -- has 22.4 million video service customers and 22 million broadband customers.
Monday, the companies said HBO Now's Cablevision launch would come before April 12's premiere of "Game of Thrones" fifth season. The companies didn't detail the specific date nor whether the launch timing would differ slightly from Apple's launch. They also didn't provide a price for HBO Now through Cablevision's Optimum Online Internet service.
Apple device owners will be able to sign up for HBO Now, which is similar to the popular HBO Go online companion to a traditional pay-TV package, for $14.99 a month.
A representative for HBO declined to discuss financial terms of the deal and said specific timing details would be available in the coming weeks.