HBO Now service launches, users can subscribe without having cable

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney – April 7, 2015) — Starting Tuesday, you can buy an HBO subscription without having to pay for cable. The premium cable channel’s HBO NOW service started to welcome subscribers on Tuesday, a few days ahead of the channel’s biggest premiere of the year, the new season of “Game of Thrones.”

“Now, all you need is the internet to get HBO,” a promotional page for the service says.

The service costs $14.99 a month, and comes with a 30-day free trial. It is available through Apple TV, iPhones and iPads, as well as one major broadband Internet provider, Cablevision. “More providers coming soon,” the sign-up page says.

The launch also came with a brief humorous explainer of the service from the network’s “Last Week Tonight” host, John Oliver.

“It’s a lot like HBO Go except you don’t have to rely on your parent’s password,” Oliver joked.

(Check back later Tuesday for CNNMoney’s exclusive launch-day interview with HBO CEO Richard Plepler.)

Tuesday’s launch is a historic moment, accompanied by the sort of drama one usually sees on HBO shows like “True Detective” and “Veep” — because HBO Now is a symbol of television’s streaming future.

It is simultaneously thrilling and, for some media executives, slightly terrifying, because it alters the relationship between programmers and distributors.

Subscribers to HBO NOW still have to bring their own broadband Internet connection, but they don’t have to pay for a cable bundle, so it is an example of “unbundling.”

HBO announced its plans for an unbundled version of the channel late last year. HBO says it wants to attract young people who don’t currently pay for a cable bundle, but would like to have live and on-demand access to its dramas, comedies, movies, talk shows and documentaries.

HBO is a unit of Time Warner, one of the country’s biggest media companies. This web site is also owned by Time Warner.

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