It seems like a perfect match. HBO with its commercial-free, high-quality programming (but smaller audience), and Apple with its huge audience but lacking a lot of the shows I want to be watching: John Adams, The Wire, Flight of the Conchords. It’s no surprise they’re getting busy.
HBO actually already has an online distribution service, but it’s only for members and is both limited in scope and kind of weird at the moment. Apple is a good option for them, though I’m sure they’ll also sweeten the deal for subscribers to keep those Apple characters from collecting too much cash.
The question iTunes subscribers will want to know is: will an episode of The Wire cost the same as an episode of Will and Grace? At three times the length and probably a billion times the production values, the HBO episode is almost certain to cost more. Apple will have to think this out, because they’ve prided themselves on price management and it’s a slippery slope once they change the rules for one vendor. Either way, more selection is a good thing, so keep your ears open and get ready to get buyin’.