As some noticed when Roku this week announced its upgraded 4K-ready streaming media player, the Roku 4, the product packaging featured a highly-anticipated addition to Roku’s channel lineup: HBO NOW. The premium network’s over-the-top offering has been one glaring omission from an otherwise robust lineup of programming options on Roku’s platform, which today includes more than 3,000 apps and channels. But it seems Roku owners will no longer have to wait – the channel is launching today on Roku.
This was first reported by Cord Cutter News, which received an email from corporate communications reps at Roku (we’ve confirmed) that includes this detail. Roku has also confirmed this news directly with us, and the Roku support is this morning being featured right on the HBO NOW website:
We should note that, as of the time of writing, the HBO NOW channel is not yet live on the Roku Channel Store, but the email stated that it will be launching “later this morning” and will be available on “all current generation players.”
[Update: HBO NOW has just gone live, Roku and HBO tell us, but we’re not yet seeing it when searching. However, you can add the channel through the direct link here if you also experience a delay in being able to surface it through search.]
The channel, which requires the $14.99/month subscription service, allows viewers to watch all of HBO’s content, including original series, past and present, like “Game of Thrones,” as well as movies, sports events, documentaries, specials, and more.
Roku users will be able to try the service for free for 30 days, then purchase their subscription via their Roku device. That subscription will also allow them to access HBONOW on other supported platforms, including web, mobile, tablet and more.
There was a bit of concern in the past about when Roku would gain access to this channel. A few tipsters had pointed out previously that Roku wasn’t even listed on the HBO NOW website as one of the platforms the company was planning to support “coming soon.” In the meantime, the HBO NOW app went live on a number of other devices and platforms following the expiration of its Apple exclusive, including Amazon’s Fire tablets, Google Play, Chromecast, the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, and most recently Android TV.
But fears were finally quelled this week when the Roku 4 box proudly sported the HBO NOW logo.
“HBO NOW is a hit with consumers and we’re thrilled to make it available to millions of Roku customers,” said Jeff Dallesandro, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Digital Distribution and Business Development, HBO in a statement. “Bringing our programming to consumers through HBO NOW is a natural evolution for HBO, and partnering with a streaming leader such as Roku greatly extends the reach of our service as we usher in this next phase of innovation for our network.”
The HBO NOW offering is only one way the premium network is working to compete more broadly with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. In addition to reaching the growing number of U.S.-based cord cutters and so-called “cord nevers” (those who forgo pay TV subscriptions entirely), HBO is trying to reach a similar broadband-only audience elsewhere in the world, too.
Related to this, alongside news of its Roku release, HBO’s Latin America arm also announced plans to make content from the HBO/Max premium channels available to broadband-only subscribers for the first time through a new HBO GO digital service that launches this year in Columbia. Unlike the over-the-top offering in the U.S., this international effort will operate under the HBO GO brand instead of the HBO NOW brand.
As an online subscription service, broadband-only customers in the region will be able to access HBO GO through distributors throughout all of Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil, and the Caribbean in the months ahead.