Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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HBO’s gamble on streaming

April 8, 2015

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will be available to HBO Now subscribers.(Photo via HBO)

The long wait for HBO’s streaming service is over. The premium cable company released its HBO Now app on Apple devices Tuesday. New viewers can finally sign up for a subscription to watch HBO content, without paying for cable.

The service is hailed as a victory for cord cutters, especially those eager to watch fan-favorite Game of Thrones, which debuts its fifth season this Sunday.

But last weekend’s Final Four offers a bleak warning for those anticipating Game of Thrones this weekend. During the final minutes of the University of Kentucky and University of Wisconsin basketball game on Saturday, some users watching on Sling TV, a streaming service that offers sports networks, were left with error messages, according to Consumerist.

As Peter Kafka reminds cord cutters in an article for Re/code:

…if you use HBO Now to stream “Game of Thrones” on Sunday, just remember that you — and lots of other people — are going to be watching TV on the Internet. And watching TV on the Internet can be a problem when lots of people are watching TV on the Internet.

HBO’s announcement that it would offer its content through streaming with HBO Now was considered a game-changing moment by many in the industry. With shows like Boardwalk Empire, True Detective and mega-hit The Sopranos, HBO’s programming has always been a draw for traditional cable providers.

The network joins a growing number of options for cord cutters, as The New York Times points out. But as more and more people move away from cable and satellite television, the limitations and risks with streaming become more apparent.

If HBO has success with its new outlet, it could convince more networks looking to do something similar. As television technology continues to advance, it’s definitely something worth watching.

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