HBO is untethering its customers from their cable televisions, and will launch a stand-alone streaming service in 2015.
During a meeting for Time Warner investors in New York on Wednesday (October 15), the cable network’s chairman and CEO, Richard Plepler, said the service will capitalize on projected growth in the 10 million American homes that have broadband-only TV access.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The move will put HBO – home to docs such as Love Child, Citizenfour, The Last Patrol and Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (pictured above) – in direct competition with streaming services such as Netflix, and gives viewers without a cable subscription a way to access its programming.
HBO currently offers the streaming app HBO Go to subscribers and has made some of its content available via Amazon Prime, but those offerings have not quelled demand from viewers who do not have access.
The network’s scripted hit Game of Thrones is the most illegally downloaded series in the world, according to a report released by anti-piracy security firm Irdeto earlier this year. During a four-week period in January and February, the fantasy drama was illegally downloaded nearly 1.6 million times.