HBO Now Accounted For Almost 1% Of Internet Video Traffic On Sunday Night

IMG_0022HBO’s standalone streaming service HBO Now is only a week old but a look at traffic numbers for its first big-event night give hope that it might be finding traction with consumers.

According to Sandvine’s analysis of Internet traffic in the U.S. at 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday — that would be right in the middle of the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones — the 5-day-old HBO Now managed to account for .7% of downstream video content.

That’s not huge — especially when compared to the 33.5% for Netflix or the 15.7% for YouTube — but when you consider all the current restrictions on HBO Now, it’s pretty impressive.

First, it was only a few days old and it costs $15/month. Even with HBO throwing in free 30-day trials, many consumers simply haven’t gotten around to deciding whether or not to give it a shot. And people with cable who may want to eventually cut the cord may be waiting for their contracts to expire or to see how HBO Now performs before bringing out the virtual ax.

Second, speaking of price, the $15/month rate is about double that of Netflix and Amazon Prime (if you were to break out the yearly Prime subscription into monthly amounts). Yet Amazon video, which has been around for years and offers a wide selection of free and rental videos, still only accounted for 1.9% of downstream video on Sunday.

Third, there’s the limitations on devices. HBO Now is only being sold through Apple’s iTunes and through Cablevision’s Optimum Online broadband service (though you have to be in an area served by Cablevision). And Apple’s iOS devices offer the only mobile platform for HBO Now at this moment, meaning the many millions of people using Android or Windows Mobile phones and tablets can’t access it.

Though we confirmed that HBO Now users watching on a computer can output the video to their TVs via HDMI, the only way to stream directly to TV’s is currently the Apple TV box. Thus, owners of devices from Roku, Amazon, Google, and others are not buying.

Meanwhile HBO Go, the streaming service that HBO has been providing to its cable subscribers for several years — and which still seems to crumple under the weight of high-demand — only managed 3.4% of traffic.

This apparent initial minor success of HBO Now may be good news for Showtime and Starz as they consider whether to make their premium networks available directly to consumers without requiring a cable subscription.

As Sandvine is quick, and right, to point out, these numbers are just a snapshot of one part of one evening. It will take months of data to see just how quickly consumers adopt HBO Now and whether those people use it as much as HBO Go and others.


Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.