HBO to Free Itself From Cable, Launching Standalone Online TV Subscription Service
In a move that undoubtedly will make cable-cutters and cable-nevers very happy, premium TV network HBO announced it will launch a stand-alone online television service in 2015 -- sans cable subscription.
The announcement was made by HBO chief executive Richard Plepler at the Time Warner Inc. investor day on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. HBO is a subsidiary of Time Warner.
The new service will essentially build off of the network's popular HBO Go online streaming service and multi-platform app, which is currently only available if you pay for HBO and subscribe to a cable or satellite TV service -- or know a friend who has a subscription and is willing to share his HBO Go password with you (HBO's CEO Plepler doesn't care; He said so to BuzzFeed earlier this year).
The company's move to a so-called "over-the-top" internet-based service -- a business model which Netflix has found much success using, but which HBO and others have been wary of trying out -- constitutes yet another sign that the Internet is slowly subsuming the doddering subscription TV framework.
While HBO was initially hesitant to move away from the distribution model it's used for decades (since the channel was better known as the Home Box Office) it seems popular demand for an Internet-only subscription version of HBO -- and the increasing market opportunity that demand represents -- has finally swayed the premium TV standard-bearer to "cut the cord" themselves, no matter what the backlash from pay-TV distributors may be.
The cable-cutters and cable-nevers, said Plepler in his announcement, represents "a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped. It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO."
"So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States," he then announced. "We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them."
Since that statement was only recently made, little is known about HBO's stand-alone subscription online TV service, other than that it'll be much like HBO Go and will be launching sometime in 2015. However, an anonymous source told The Wall Street Journal that the subscription fee for the upcoming cord-cutter service wouldn't cost less than the current price of adding HBO to pay-TV services.
But it will likely generate lots of revenue for HBO, as Plelper is expecting hundreds of millions of dollars from the cable-averse crowd -- who will no longer have to steal their friends' password to catch the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
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