HBO Now may have over 850K subscribers, analyst says

While HBO isn't forthcoming about its subscriber numbers, particularly for its shiny new standalone service HBO Now, an online video industry analyst pegged the number of subscribers to the OTT variant at more than 850,000, "and the number could very well be around 1 million."

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield put together data from several sources including Apple's iOS app store, where he tracked the top-grossing apps for several weeks. The study did not include data from Apple TV, nor from Cablevision Optimum, which is offering HBO Now to its broadband subscribers as well.

Starting from May 7, the day that HBO Now's one-month free trial ended and regular subscription pricing of $15 a month began, Greenfield tracked its ranking in the App Store through June 26. So far, he says, it appears that churn has not increased or decreased in a meaningful way. HBO Now's app ranks between 8 and 9 in the iPhone's list of top grossing apps, and sits at number 5 among iPad apps.

Greenfield's estimate of subscribers was partly based upon the ranking of other apps, like Pandora, which do report their subscriber numbers.

He estimated that during HBO Now's free trial between April 7 and May 7, more than 1 million people signed up to try it out--a solid start for the SVOD service, considering that HBO already has about 30 million subscribers via MVPDs that carry its network.

By comparison, WWE Network, one of the first cable networks to offer an SVOD service for its fans, signed up just under 700,000 subscribers in its first three months, but took nearly a year to cross the 1 million-sub mark.

Further, an App Annie study found that HBO Now was the top-grossing app worldwide on the App Store in May.

Despite the promising results, Greenfield doesn't see HBO Now as a critical part of the company's business model--yet.

"Currently, HBO Now is a great way for HBO to expand its subscriber base, generate incremental profits, improve its understanding of the consumer through data capture and learn the direct-to-consumer business for the first-time," he wrote in a blog post on the BTIG website.

HBO Now still has plenty of room to grow, with an expansion to other platforms, particularly Google Play, in the works once its three-month exclusivity deal with Apple ends.

For more:
- see this BTIG post (sub. req.)
- 9 to 5 Mac has this story

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