Cord cutters of the world, rejoice! HBO says that starting in 2015, fans will be able to sign up for a standalone version of its online streaming service, HBO Go, in the United States without paying for cable TV. The news comes directly from CEO Richard Plepler, who was speaking at an investor presentation for HBO's parent company, Time Warner. Per Peter Kafka at Re/code:
Plepler said the company will launch a “standalone, over the top” version of HBO in the U.S. next year, and would work with “current partners,” and may work with others as well. But he wouldn’t provide any other detail.
Even that vague statement is a milestone for the HBO, Time Warner, and the TV business in general. For years, Time Warner and HBO have said they’re happy with the existing system, where HBO is sold to consumers by TV providers, and is usually only available to customers who are already buying another bundle of TV networks.
HBO has been served very well by its old model—as Kafka notes, it earned $4.9 billion in revenue last year. So why toy with it and risk the wrath of cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable that are now so integral to HBO's business? A lot of the answer probably lies in this chart.
Yep, no-cable-required Netflix is doing pretty well right now, and it presents some nasty competition for HBO. In any event, broke twentysomethings will soon no longer be able to cite the lack of a standalone streaming package when they steal their parents’ HBO password.