HBO’s streaming app is off to a poor or good start, depending who you ask

The numbers are in. In its first 10 months of operation, HBO Now has reached 800,000 paying subscribers. But just exactly what that means is still up in the air.

On the one hand, there’s HBO CEO Richard Plepler’s opinions. In an earnings call earlier today, Plepler said that the numbers reflect positive growth for the first few months, and while they aren’t as high as, say, Netflix’s 75 million paying subscribers, the service will only improve over the next few months.

Among those who felt less than ecstatic though were investors and industry analysts, who expected the service to be above a million subscribers already and well on its way to 2 million.

Of course, trying to compare HBO, a service that’s still deeply rooted in cable, and Netflix, a service that completely lives online, is a bit like comparing Apple to Wal-Mart.

It’s not all bad news, though: in the same 10 month period, HBO added close to 2 million cable subscribers, bringing the grand total to 2.7 million new Game of Thrones junkies.

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Plepler said during the call that he expects the streaming side of the business to pick up once HBO Now hits the PS4 and Xbox One, which currently account for over 20% of HBO Go viewing. This, compounded by the initial confusion over two seemingly similar services – HBO Go and HBO Now – competing in the same space, the 90-day Apple exclusivity and the lack of an international launch, likely made it harder for the service to gain traction.

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