Don't plan on buying an HBO Now subscription straight from HBO — it doesn't currently plan on selling them. Instead, HBO tells us that you'll have to sign up through one of its partners. Apple was announced as a partner last week, and today New York-area cable provider Cablevision is being announced as its second. Cablevision said this afternoon that it will offer HBO Now to its Optimum internet and Wi-Fi customers, making it the first cable provider to announce such plans. No other details are being announced, however: that includes when you'll be able to get it, what it'll cost, and how exactly it'll work. HBO Now is supposed to launch in April, ahead of the the season premiere of Game of Thrones.
There's a good chance HBO Now will be bundled with internet packages
Cablevision doesn't say whether it'll be offering HBO Now on day one, but it seems like a possibility. Though Apple has touted its position as HBO's exclusive launch partner, Apple is, in fact, only its exclusive "non-pay TV" launch partner. That means that while you won't be able to subscribe over a Roku until Apple's exclusivity period lifts three months from now, you should be able to subscribe though any cable company that makes a deal with HBO. HBO tells us that it hopes to announce more partners soon, but Optimum is the first.
Though we don't know exactly what pricing model Cablevision will take up, the deal suggests some interesting possibilities: it's quite possible that some of the first HBO Now deals will be internet package bundles, much like how HBO's TV network is often included as part of premium TV packages. Alternatively, it's possible that Cablevision will simply offer special pricing to its own customers. Either way, this seems to be what HBO wants. Even though HBO is moving online, its service still gets treated as special — and it can likely reach a lot more customers if internet providers are using Now as a perk for sign ups.
Of course, that does make things a bit more difficult for cord cutters. Signing up directly through HBO would be simple, whereas we don't know what restrictions, limitations, or odd deals will be offered through partnering cable companies. Customers who sign up for the Apple TV's $14.99 per month subscription will be able to view HBO Now both on the web and on the device itself, which makes it seem like the service won't come with limitations. But Cablevision specifically notes that it isn't listing what devices its HBO Now subscription will be offered on until later. Hopefully, it and other cable partners will make it accessible anywhere you can get online — if not, cord cutters will certainly want to shop around.