Today HBO announced it will finally begin offering a standalone online streaming service, separate from its traditional cable subscription model. Yes, HBO the premium cable network is cutting the cord and will allow an undetermined level of access to HBO without needing a cable subscription.
“That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler stated at an investor meeting. “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."
This news is huge for consumers who would like to eschew cable companies and subscriptions, but also want to access certain television shows online -- including HBO's roster of acclaimed shows, miniseries, original movies and documentaries.
It also solidifies the huge shift in television watching from cable to online services like Netflix, who successfully offers streaming television, movies and original (award-winning) programming.
And let's not forget that the shift online is a great untapped opportunity for HBO. "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," he said according to Entertainment Weekly.
In terms of how HBO will deliver its online, streaming content, there is no solid plan for delivery or price.
"Plepler ran down three potential distribution models for the streaming service. The first is to sell the online-only service through HBO’s existing cable providers. (For example, if you have broadband service through Time Warner or Comcast and want the network’s streaming service, you would be able to purchase the online service without having any cable channels.) The second is to distribute the service via new partners like Amazon, Google or Microsoft. The third method would be to attempt the Netflix model, whereby HBO markets its streaming service direct to consumers and skips the middlemen."
HBO's current online streaming service, HBO Go, was introduced in 201o. However, it is only available for those who are already subscribers to the cable service. As NPR points out HBO Go has been a popular service, and the sharing of passwords has been wide-spread.
It is unclear what content will be available via this new streaming service, or how closely it will resemble HBO Go. In April, HBO and Amazon announced a partnership, where a handful of HBO shows were available for streaming via Amazon.