Internet TV took another step toward conquering cable this week, when Sling TV announced that it would add HBO to its online package of live TV channels — just in time for the Game of Thrones April 12 Season 5 premiere — making the “cord cutting” service operated by Dish Network an even more attractive alternative to a cable or satellite TV subscription.
Right now, Sling TV offers a basic package of about 20 channels streaming “live” for a monthly $20 fee. Those channels include ESPN, ESPN2, and TNT, the latter of which carries NBA playoff games, giving Sling TV an edge in the all-important sports department. As the Inquisitr reported last week, industry experts believe that live sports are the primary factor keeping consumers tied to their cable TV subscriptions.
But internet TV services such as Sling TV and others are starting to make inroads in the area of live sports broadcasts.
Another major element that has discouraged many viewers from “cutting” the cable TV “cord” is the availability of premium cable services only with a cable subscription, meaning that to view show like the highly popular Game of Thrones, or even a quieter but also critically acclaimed show like Showtime’s The Affair, required a cable subscription, supplemented by additional fees for the premium cable channels.
But the deal announced Wednesday between HBO and Sling TV marks a first step in changing that situation.
HBO itself took a similar step, announcing last month the debut of its new HBO Now service, which for a fee of $15 per month allows viewers access to HBO programming without a cable subscription. HBO’s current online service, HBO Go, requires a cable and HBO subscription.
HBO on Sling TV will also cost an additional $15 per month on top of the regular $20 Sling TV monthly fee.
According to reports Wednesday, however, the Sling TV version of HBO will include only the main HBO channel streamed in real time, plus on-demand access to at least some other HBO shows, making it a different service than HBO Now.
The advantage of adding HBO to Sling TV, then, would appear to be mainly the chance for a customer to receive all of his or her cable channels in one app. For viewers who prefer to watch internet TV on a real TV set rather than on a computer or mobile device, HBO Now is available only on Apple TV set-top devices.
Sling TV may be accessed on the Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and XBox One devices.
In any event, the addition of HBO to Sling TV is in all likelihood only the first step in a major transition from cable to internet TV taking place this year and through the rest of the decade.