Less Than a Year After Launch, HBO Now Has Only 800,000 Subscribers

But CEO Richard Plepler reassured investors the lower-than-expected numbers are all just growing pains.


Are you a proud subscriber of HBO Now, the TV giant’s $15-per-month cable-free streaming service? If so, you’d be one of only 800,000 subscribers who gets to reap the supposed benefits. That’s according to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, who reportedly confirmed the relatively low number during a Time Warner investor’s earnings call. That subscriber amount allegedly fell one to two million subscribers short of industry predictions.

HBO Now was launched in April 2015 as a way to pander to cord cutters who wanted to watch episodes of The Wire or Girls or Game of Thrones, but didn’t want to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a cable package that included HBO. The number might have been well under estimates since certain HBO programming is available on other prominent streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime. But the fact is that everybody other than those 800,000 subscribers probably just borrowed their parents’ HBO Go passwords to watch shows instead.

The launch of HBO Now followed an extended outcry for the service, and after much speculation HBO gave in to what people wanted. But a relatively small amount of people took it. In comparison, Netflix has about 75 million subscribers. Still, it basically took Netflix five years to get to a million subscribers. But HBO is way more powerful now than Netflix was then.

Regardless, according to other sources, Plepler was pleased with the extent of the platform’s growth, especially considering it has yet to launch on PlayStation and Xbox, and hasn’t debuted eagerly anticipated content, such as new shows by Bill Simmons, Jon Stewart, or the daily news program from Vice.

“We’re learning all the time. … We see an enormous amount of subscribers ahead,” Plepler said on the call, adding “HBO Now is an additive part of our growth strategy. … We’re going to work in a multifaceted way to expand our sub[scriber] base.”

So, who wants to go watch Making a Murderer?

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