While it currently boasts some of the best programming on television in the form of Game of Thrones, Veep, Girls and Last Week Tonight, there’s something that’s always held premium giant, HBO, back – its subscription model. Since the beginning of its existence, the only way one – in the U.S. – could gain access to the service (legally) was by subscribing to a cable package from Comcast, AT&T or a host of other providers. Even with the advent of HBO Go, viable access to the channel for the likes of cord-cutters has been scarce… but after an announcement made today by CEO Richard Plepler, that’s all about to change.
At an investor meeting, Plepler stated, “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.”
Yes, you read that right, starting next year (in the U.S.), you will no longer need a cable subscription to gain access to HBO. While the company has been experimenting with internet packages that included access to HBO Go over the last few months, this will mark the first time the premium network will be available to anyone and everyone in an à la carte fashion. This is major, and could be the turning point for viewers who don’t subscribe to any sort of cable package. With HBO making this move, it’s a safe bet Showtime, Starz and Cinemax (owned by the Time Warner umbrella) will be following suit in the near future.
It’s currently unknown how much stand-alone HBO will cost over its cable-based counterpart (it’s not out of the realm of possibility that HBO will charge more for network access in stand-alone in order to keep cable companies at bay) or what kind of service it will offer – some analysts report the possibility of the new offering not being so much “HBO Go for all” as much as “HBO Lite” (I.E. no access to library content past a certain time frame).
Regardless of what it ends up being, this is a major step in the right direction for HBO and all cable based television. So for now, let’s just watch Peter Dinklage dance in celebration:
Will you be subscribing to standalone HBO? Let us know in the comments below.