HBO Streaming Service to Debut with Season 5 of Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones has been one of the most pirated shows since it’s debut in 2011- a title that is due in large part to the accessibility of the show’s home network, HBO. The premium network has always been tethered to a cable package, something which, in a time when many homes are cutting the cord, has proved to be more burden than blessing.

However, cable-less Thrones fans who have previously been forced to “borrow” HBO Go passwords from friends and family or sail the their laptops through the choppy waters of Pirate Bay, will now have a way to follow the adventures of their favorite Westeros characters legally.

Forbes is reporting that an internal memo reveals that the  as-of-now unnamed service will act independently from the cable-based streaming service, HBO Go. It will also be developed outside of HBO by MLB Advanced, a company best known for providing “white-label streaming technology for clients like WWE Network.”

A separate streaming software, known internally as Maui, which was being developed in-house has been sidelined; though it may eventually be rolled into HBO Go to help combat some of the issues that service has experienced in the past during high volume times. The memo, sent by Mark Thomas, SVP of Technology Program Management, and Drew Angeloff, SVP, Digital Products, explains the decision as one to ensure the quality of the product:

Maui was a way to get us into market faster with a less than perfect solution – the external partner will take that burden allowing us to focus on the forward looking technologies we are creating for HBO GO.

HBO’s streaming service is slated to make it’s debut in April 2015, seemingly to capitalize on the viewership boost that will come with the start of the new season of Game of Thrones.

40 Comments

  1. This is great. Let’s just hope that they improve it so that they can handle the increased traffic. I’m likely going to cancel my cable and just do Netflix and HBO Go when it becomes available but it will be a shame if it goes down during GoT broadcasts.

  2. YAY! I have to cancel my cable (too expensive) so I’m hoping I can become tech-savvy enough to learn how to use this. Anyone have any idea what it is going to cost?

  3. Hulu Plus…. Netflix…. HBO…. That will be the trifecta for millions of cord cutters in 2015.

    My cable contract expires in about a year. Great time to end it for good.

    The only piece of the puzzle left is sports. That is a much bigger nut the crack. Personally I don’t watch much sports….

  4. Great news for you guys, sadly for us Canadians, HBO is locked in to an exclusive carriage contract until at least 2018. Blegh.

  5. Funnily enough, I predicted they would premiere a pay-for-stream service right before GOT… though, I expected season 6 or 7. This is way earlier than I ever imagined.

  6. Oh and we should be expecting another Game of Thrones season 5 teaser this weekend from “The Sight”. They said we would get 4 teases a month :-]

  7. Hope this is gonna be a thing in the UK too, since there’s no tv in my university halls and apparently Sky GO is laggy as hell,

  8. Cracken:
    Great news for you guys, sadly for us Canadians, HBO is locked in to an exclusive carriage contract until at least 2018. Blegh.

    WHAT?? This won’t be available in Canada? >:(

  9. Ashara D,

    First of all, don’t worry, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to use VOD-services. Youtube is one and I’m sure you have no problem using that. 😉
    As for the price, I think it will probably be around 9-20 dollars, if HBO wants to have a chance in the market. Otherwise service like Netflix will wipe the floor with them, I think, no matter how good their content is.

  10. Out of all the ASOIAF artist out there we have like 2 pictures of Jenny of Oldstones -_-. Get it together Internet. I want to see a decent pic of Jenny. Bonus points if you include her with The Prince of Dragonflies

  11. Definitely a step in the right direction! Make it global, though, or it will fail again. If people have to pay for a VPN service to (still illegally) be able to connect to the streaming service, the threshold will remain too high for most…

  12. Al Swearengen:
    Just please bring the service to the UK!

    I had thought you were not too keen on the show…or are you thinking about HBO shows in general, not just GoT?

  13. Just some thinking: wouldn’t it be cool if they made season 7 into a trilogy of movies?
    Then we have season 5 in 2015 for fixing up bookmaterial from AFFC and ADWD. Then we get season 6 in 2016 for a good build up for the two battles. And then season 7 in three movies. The first movies in 2017, the second in 2018 and the third in 2019. Then George gets way more time to finish the books. And maybe the showrunners can give some cut season-5-cut-characters (Euron, Victarion, young Griff, maybe Lady Stoneheart) a good storyline in season 6, before going into the films.

    Then movie 1, in 2017 can be about the Battle of Ice and feature characters like Jon Snow, Stannis, Melisandre, the Boltons, Brienne, Sansa, Theon, the White Walkers, the Wildlings and the Nights Watch and maybe some Kings Landing stuff.

    And a year later in 2018 movie two can be about the Battle of Fire (Mereen) and feature characters like Daenarys, Tyrion, Jorah, Barristan, Arya, Trystane, the Sand Snakes, Myrcella, Jaime, the other Dornish people, Young Griff maybe and some Kings Landing stuff.

    These two movies can both begin where season 6 ended and run chronologically on the timeline, just like AFFC and ADWD did.

    And finally in 2019 the final movie, with things like Dany landing in Westeros with her dragons, the White Walkers invading Westeros, the final battle, and all the things that come after that to make a good ending.

    I would really love that! But I think they will just do 7 seasons and cut a lot of the books. I think that some scenes that require a lot CGI will be way less big because of the limited budget for a series.

  14. Rutger:
    Just some thinking: wouldn’t it be cool if they made season 7 into a trilogy of movies?

    No. It would be mercenary and abusive.

  15. Michelle Monaghan received a GG award nom. Also a best supporting actress nom to Alexandra Daddarios bewbs. Both of them.

  16. Rutger,

    I don’t see how even a trilogy of movies could give “more depth”. You’re looking at 9 hours there if they’re all good, long, 3-hour films. Even a totally ordinary nothing-special season 7 would be around the same length. So budget is the only difference (and waiting a year between them, which no one will like).

  17. GOT premiere will also be the premiere of the HBO streaming service lagging and crashing 30 seconds after the episode begins

  18. Sam,

    Yeah you are right about the length. I didn’t think about that very good. Even a whole season is about 10 hours long.
    But the bigger budget can make a big difference. I didn’t like the lack of dragonscenes in season 4 compared to the books. There were only three short dragonscenes in season 4 while there were way more dragonmoments in the books. Made me think that the dragons were already to expensive to make in the size they had in season 4. They will keep growing and becoming more and more expensive as they grow. So I suspect for season 5 that a certain scene in a fighting pit will be one of two or three dragonscene in the whole new season, just because of the small budget.

    And there are much more visuals to make in the series, not only dragons. Think about white walkers, city shots, landscapes, which will cost a lot of money too. I’m afraid they don’t have enough budget to include a lot of dragonscenes in the last seasons.
    So purely looking at the budget it would be good to make movies.

    I, as a big fan of the books and series, prefer to wait a year between good and worhty movies as an ending than having a new season each year with a total lack of epic cgi scenes because of a small budget.

  19. Rutger,

    For one, I don’t go to the movies to watch television. For two, you’re looking at 30 bucks minimum, which assumes you are only watching them ONCE. For three, imagine if HBO split up a regular season of episodes into three parts and there was a one-year wait between them. For four, if the production values are really going to improve the transition for those marathoning the shows at home with their TV DVDs will be jarring.

    And etc.

  20. I don’t mean to tease, Rutger, but your seeming belief that the completely CGI dragons get more expensive to portray on screen the larger they get is adorable. They aren’t really paid for per-pixel. 😉

  21. Robin Moss,

    I know they aren’t paid for per-pixel but it’s logical thinking that they need much more time to create a very big dragon that looks real and good than to create a dragon the size of a cat. Bigger dragons mean much more details and interaction with the environment, so they need more time to create them.

    And time costs money. 😉

  22. Rutger,

    Hehehe. Most (and I do mean most!) of the time and hence money doesn’t go to creating the model of the dragon. That’s funny. It’s the animation that’s tricky. The “skeleton” of the model might have been simpler in Season 1, since the dragons only had seconds of screen-time and didn’t have to move much. However, from then on, it seems to me the dragon models have been more or less equally internally complex regardless of the size.

  23. I cut the cord a few months back.

    Netflix: $7.99
    Hulu Plus: $7.99
    Amazon Prime: $99.00 per year–around $8.00 per month
    Mohu HD Leaf for local channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, WB, CW, PBS

    Cut my cable bill in half. The only thing I get from Comcast is wireless. I don’t watch sports so I don’t have to worry about that. And if there’s a show I really want to watch I buy it on iTunes. Still cheaper than paying outlandish cable fees!

  24. The Bastard:
    Hulu Plus…. Netflix…. HBO…. That will be the trifecta for millions of cord cutters in 2015.

    Interesting. I would have definitely put Amazon Streaming (or whatever they call it for Prime members) instead of Hulu Plus. I wonder how big Hulu Plus is. Do they have the exclusives Amazon Prime does?

  25. Strider,

    Hulu Plus has the complete Criterion Collection. That in itself is worth $8.00 per month. Hulu Plus also airs some current shows the day after they air in the U.S. Not all shows, though. They don’t have the Walking Dead, but they do have American Horror.

    Also, they have a lot of old tv shows, with short commercials.

  26. Hollyoak,

    Thanks, I checked it out. Impressive. Stands pretty well against Amazon Instant Video. I still think with the membership for Prime you’d have a massive base to begin with and you really can’t beat the $79/yr price. But pretty impressive.

  27. I suspect the new streaming service will go the way of Prime and require a yearly subscription rather than month to month. Lots of people cancel HBO after GoT or whatever their favorite show is.

  28. GeekFurious,

    Seriously, the writing has been on the wall for the last year or two that this was coming (I mean, in a general way it was predictable before that, but they’ve been making more concrete moves in this direction lately), but it’s way faster than I expected.

  29. I love Game of Thrones but I am not willing to spend over $100 per month gor cable just to see it.

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