According to the report, HBO — working with Major League Baseball Advanced Media — plans to introduce its widely anticipated online service next month ahead of the fifth season of Game Of Thrones which premieres on April 12. It will be called HBO Now and could cost about $15 a month vs $8.99 for Netflix. But this is key: IBT says Time Warner will not require subscribers to deal with a cable company, unlike the current HBO Go streaming offering. They reportedly will be able to access the HBO programming via streaming platforms such as Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and Amazon.
What’s more, HBO execs are said to be talking to Apple about making HBO Now a featured service on a TV-like streaming service it wants to launch.
True? HBO can’t complain if it isn’t. All it’s saying is: “We know there’s great anticipation around our standalone streaming service. And when we have details to share, we will do so.”
It would be startling if HBO does, indeed, do an end run around cable and satellite distributors. CEO Richard Plepler has repeatedly said that he wants to collaborate to reach about 10 million homes where people subscribe to broadband, but not pay TV. “We’re very excited about working together with them to leverage that opportunity,” he told analysts last month. “Our meetings have gone very well in that regard and I think it’s a tremendous advantage for them and us to use HBO to drive broadband.”
Time Warner depends on traditional pay TV distributors to carry — and pay for — its fleet of Turner networks including TNT, TBS, and CNN. Execs have also said that HBO’s best growth opportunities come from working with cable and satellite to persuade their customers to pick up the premium channel.
Prospects for greater collaboration likely would diminish if HBO offered a product that encouraged pay TV subscribers to cut the cord. That’s a real concern, research firm Parks Associates said in January based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. broadband households. It found that 17% might subscribe to an HBO streaming service — with 91% of them current pay TV subscribers. The kicker: About half, the firm said, “would cancel their pay-tv service after subscribing” to the HBO service.