HBO only launched HBO Now earlier this month, but the streaming service already appears to have passed perhaps the toughest test it'll ever have to face — successfully showing the premiere of Game of Thrones' season five without collapsing under the load. The new service, designed for people without an HBO cable subscription, looks to have performed admirably on opening night, streaming the show alongside its 9PM TV premiere.
HBO Now is currently only available if you sign up through an Apple device, but the service can be watched in a browser, and is currently offering a one-month free trial. HBO Go — the online service for HBO cable subscribers — didn't do so well. For many, the episode didn't appear online until well past its 9PM TV air time, while others reported issues getting the service to run at all.
game of welp pic.twitter.com/73WPFPuaF9— matt (@mattbuchanan) April 13, 2015
This isn't the first time the cable company's online service hasn't been up to the task of streaming the smash hit show at launch — last year, many who tried to stream the season four premiere found themselves unable to access HBO Go. Service was only restored "to some services" two-and-a-half hours after the show's 9PM air time. Where HBO Go uses in-house technology to power its streaming, HBO Now uses an entirely different backend. The new service borrows the backend from MLB Advanced Media — the same company that provides the WWE Network with its streaming technology — after HBO canceled attempts to build its own streaming player late last year.
Other streaming services have had trouble keeping pace with demand recently. Sling TV, the over-the-top service owned by Dish TV, buckled during last month's college basketball semi-finals after a surge in viewers. Many subscribers to the $20-a-month web TV bundle found that their service was spotty during the March Madness games, and took to Twitter to complain about the service, and threaten cancelation. Sling TV also reportedly had problems streaming tonight's Game of Thrones premiere.
But while web TV might still have spotty problems and the tech powering HBO Go wasn't perfect tonight, HBO Now's successful showing of Game of Thrones season five proves both that the cable network is adapting to the changing market, and that you can cut your cord and still keep up with TV's biggest shows.