It looks like a big number, but only at first glance.
In its first eight months of its existence, HBO signed up 800,000 paying subscribers for HBO Now, the streaming service designed for people who want to watch HBO content but don’t have, or want, traditional cable TV. That’s part of what made 2015 a “terrific year for subscriber growth,” with 2.7 million total subscribers added in the U.S., Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, told analysts on Wednesday on an earnings call for Time Warner (TWX), which owns HBO.
HBO Now, which allows users to stream HBO content to internet connected devices, was launched last April exclusively on Apple devices. Now available on Chromecast, Android, Amazon, and other devices, it costs $14.99 a month.
But while the HBO Now 800,000 subscriber figure may seem high for just eight months, some analysts expected more.
After one analyst disparaged the number, Plepler replied, “I wouldn’t say ‘only’ 800,000. We’re just getting started.” Plepler said that the number was a good beginning considering that the service was still not available on popular devices like Xbox and Playstation, and still didn’t offer some HBO shows—such as Vice news—that are popular with the kind of young cord cutters who would be attracted to the service.
Plepler also said that HBO was not planning to lower HBO Now’s price to get more subscribers.
HBO Now has a long way to go to catch up with its streaming rivals, however. Netflix (NFLX) had 43.4 million paid streaming subscribers in the U.S. at the end of 2015, while at last count Hulu had around 9 million.