Facing pressure to reach customers who no longer subscribe to cable, HBO will offer a streaming service starting in 2015 that won't require a current HBO subscription.
Here's what HBO CEO Richard Plepler said about the streaming plan, which will first be offered in the US and rolled out internationally later:
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.
It will be interesting to see how they implement the service, and whether it will be tied in any way to their HBO GO online streaming, which is offered to current subscribers to the channel on cable or satellite. As of right now, there aren't too many details, but the move makes a lot of sense, as streaming numbers continue to grow every year.
This may not actually have any short-term effects on the industry, since it's likely that those who are considered "cord-cutters" and already subscribe to Netflix or other services, may choose to add HBO, rather than switch completely. Long-term, however, there's a good chance most major cable networks will follow HBO's lead, and offer their own streaming-only plans. Pricing is still a major factor for people, and it will need to be competitive with other streaming services to have a chance at being successful.
However HBO decides to roll this out, one thing is clear: content is still king, and their track record is stellar.