HBO to Introduce Standalone Web-Only Subscriptions in 2015

Popular premium cable channel HBO has announced plans to introduce a web-only subscription service designed for cable cutters in the coming months. According to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, who spoke at an investor presentation (via Re/code), the company will begin offering standalone HBO service that does not require a cable subscription in 2015.

"That is 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. 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."

HBO's decision to offer a standalone subscription is a major victory for cord cutters and the first major shift away from cable-only access to premium content. Cable companies like Time Warner and Comcast have been highly resistant to piecemeal pricing and companies like HBO have been reluctant to shift away from traditional cable delivery models in order to avoid upsetting existing revenue streams.

apple_tv_splash_2014
The television industry's reluctance to shift to a new content delivery model that strays away from cable has long been rumored to be the major reason why Apple has been unable to deliver the revolutionary television experience that it originally envisioned.

Early rumors suggested Apple was aiming for an a la carte subscription television service that would replace existing cable packages, but the company eventually scaled back on its TV ambitions and is now said to be working with cable companies on a deal that would see it providing cable content overlaid with an Apple TV-style interface.

According to Plepler, HBO will work with "current partners" on its upcoming standalone service, which possibly suggests that the web-only version may allow Apple TV users to access HBO content on their set-top boxes without a cable subscription, but details on the product are scarce at this time.

It is not clear if the standalone service will be the same as the service provided to cable subscribers who opt for HBO, but presumably, the deal will give those who purchase the web-only subscription access to the company's most popular shows like "Game of Thrones" and "True Detective."

Tag: HBO

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Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
126 months ago
in about 5 years:

"Man, I have to subscribe to HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, Netflix, Comedy Central, etc...I wish I can just subscribe to all content at one low, discounted monthly rate."
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Patriot24 Avatar
126 months ago
Too true.

We don't want to buy music a la carte. We want a monthly subscription to get all content at one price.
Then the opposite.. We don't want to subscribe to cable. We want to buy our channels a la carte.

This is almost as confusing to me as the consumer obsession of wanting phones to be bigger and tablets smaller.
I don't think the issue is A La Carte vs. Subscription. Most people would be content with cable subscriptions if they offered more realistic tiers or options where the consumer could get the channels they want without paying for extraneous channels. Currently, everyone ends up paying into a big bucket for content that they may not care about or watch.

Imagine a service where you pay $10/month for connection and local channels. $20/month gets you any 15 channels of your choosing. HBO is then a la carte for $5.

$35 per month for just the content I want to watch without being forced into paying $15/month to get one channel that is included in a "pack" with 50 others that I don't want. Done deal.

Of course, you could have more tiers of 30, 50, 75, 100 channels to sell at various price points. The ability to choose what channels/shows/content you actually want is the key.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arian19 Avatar
126 months ago
in about 5 years:

"Man, I have to subscribe to HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, Netflix, Comedy Central, etc...I wish I can just subscribe to all content at one low, discounted monthly rate."
I don't know if this is correct. HBO is already an add-on subscription service, however if you wanted it, you MUST have at least basic cable. Which is kind of backwards. All this does, is not require that you have basic cable.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Renzatic Avatar
126 months ago
in about 5 years:

"Man, I have to subscribe to HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, Netflix, Comedy Central, etc...I wish I can just subscribe to all content at one low, discounted monthly rate."

This is pretty much true. And you know what the best solution is?

...offer both. That way, people who want a'la carte get a'la carte, and people who want stick with the more traditional lump TV package can still get it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darkslide29 Avatar
126 months ago
in about 5 years:

"Man, I have to subscribe to HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, Netflix, Comedy Central, etc...I wish I can just subscribe to all content at one low, discounted monthly rate."
Too true.

We don't want to buy music a la carte. We want a monthly subscription to get all content at one price.
Then the opposite.. We don't want to subscribe to cable. We want to buy our channels a la carte.

This is almost as confusing to me as the consumer obsession of wanting phones to be bigger and tablets smaller.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arian19 Avatar
126 months ago
This should have happened a long time ago... but nice to see it happen regardless
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)