“We have the rights to do it and we would do it if we thought it was in our economic best interest,” Jeff Bewkes says this morning. But the potential market for a stand-alone HBO streaming service in the U.S. is “not sufficiently big enough now.” HBO chief Richard Plepler in March raised some consumers’ hopes that they might soon be able to subscribe to HBO without first buying basic cable: He said that it could make sense to package HBO GO with cable or phone company broadband services. Bewkes noted, though, that HBO and Cinemax have about 40M subscribers via U.S. cable and satellite services. Time Warner wants to protect those relationships: Distributors’ pricing and marketing decisions are even more important than the quality of the programming when it comes to influencing churn rates at the premium channels. Even so, Bewkes says that at Time Warner “we always look at opportunities to increase distribution” — and it already offers HBO GO without a pay TV subscription in Scandinavia. “We’re always going to keep evaluating it depending on the country.”
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