Apr 7, 2015 · 1 minute

HBO's standalone video-streaming service has debuted on the Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. It's called HBO Now, and it costs just $15 per month -- much less than it would normally cost to access HBO, since it usually requires a cable subscription.

People have been waiting for something like this. The last thing Google Ventures partner MG Siegler wrote for Pando was a rant about being "forced to pirate Game of Thrones against my will" because he didn't want to sign up for a cable service. That was three years ago, and calls for a standalone HBO haven't quieted since.

The launch's timing is fitting. Just yesterday I wrote about how difficult it is for companies to make viable cord-cutting services because of the cable industry's fear that allowing people to pay for slimmed-down services might hurt their businesses, and because it's actually kinda hard to stream video to many consumers at once.

HBO Now might be the exception that proves the rule. It's not like HBO's in danger of losing access to its original series, which I suspect are the main reason anyone would sign up for its standalone service. (What else would people sign up for, the years-old standup comedy or the mishmash of films available through the service?)

And the company has already admitted that it can't build the streaming service on its own, so it's tapped MLB Advanced to make sure its videos reach consumers. If HBO Now is able to withstand the demand for a standalone HBO channel, and the company doesn't pull its content from its own service, HBO Now could be a hit.

But most other companies won't be able to replicate its success. HBO is lucky enough to have original content people are desperate to watch that's been hidden behind a costly barrier to entry for the last several years. It can also afford to have someone else build the tech for its service, and I assume Apple offered its support to get exclusive access to one of the most-anticipated services in recent memory.

Put another way: if the only thing missing from your cord-cutting experience was "Last Week Tonight," HBO Now is going to be perfect, especially if it's used with other services like Netflix or Hulu Plus. But if you want access to several channels, live broadcasts, and the like, that cord's still gonna be awfully difficult to sever.