Catch the Game of Thrones Premiere without a Pay TV Subscription

April 10, 2015

Season Five might not be the best time to try and catch up on HBO’s Game of Thrones, what with the multiple story lines and characters that come and go. (#RedWedding). But, if you’re already a fan, you’ll have a much easier time watching the premiere this Sunday. For US viewers, there are two ways to watch the “Game of Thrones” premiere without a standard cable subscription: HBO Now & Sling TV.

This week, the premium cable channel HBO,released its OTT app, HBO Now,for streaming its programs with no cable subscription or contract required. This is exciting news forHBO Fans, who’ve made known they no longer want to hang on to their cable subscription. We know HBO has wildly popular shows —  in 2012, “Game of Thrones” was the most pirated show of the year, with 4.3 million downloads for a single episode. Now fans can get this content honestly.

The HBO Now service costs $14.99 a month, though the first month is free if you subscribe in April. Over the years, HBO has consistently delivered a great experience across their HBO GO platform and across their growing fan-base. HBO Now has deployed on Apple devices– where it’s exclusive for the next 90 days – and also on Cablevision, the only true Pay TV provider that has signed on to distribute HBO Now to their broadband customers.

In addition, this week Dish Network launched HBO on its high profile Internet TV service, Sling TV which allows users to watch a live television bundle without subscribing to cable. Sling TV has been busy adding packages to its core $20-a-month service. Dish offers HBO for an extra $15 a month, and includes HBO’s live channel and the same VOD library HBO provides on its other platforms. Sling TV also offers all customers access to three streams of HBO, in addition to the single-stream dedicated to its core and add-on packages.

This deal makes Sling TV the first and only live Internet TV service available with both linear and VOD programming from HBO. For the basic $20 a basic month subscription, Sling TV subscribers get ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, A&E, TNT, HISTORY, H2, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, IFC, El Rey, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, Disney Channel, CNN, Lifetime and Galavision and have the option to expand their content with add on packages for $5 a month including “Sports Extra,” “Hollywood Extra,” “Kids Extra,” “Lifestyle Extra” and “World News Extra.”

Sources report Sling TV has over 100,000 sign ups to date but they have a 2-million-subscriber cap in place. Subscriber caps are a way for the media industry to cope with an increase in viewers shunning traditional Pay TV packages with its hundreds of channels. “They want it to be a complementary product and not a competing product that cannibalizes their core business,” Geetha Ranganathan of Bloomberg Intelligence said. “They don’t want it to become too popular.”

Sling TV, which was unveiled at CES this January, has been called a landmark in OTT video services for good reason. Not only is the service relatively inexpensive, it also gives viewers access to a wide array of channels, including some like Disney’s ESPN and ESPN2, that have never been available with this type of service before. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently called the deal to allow Sling to carry them an “experiment” to gauge consumer interest.