Perhaps we’re seeing a tipping point in OTT video with news that HBO will launch a HBO OTT channel in 2015 that is not tied to a pay-TV subscription. The details are very few right now, but HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler announced the move at HBO’s parent company Time Warner’s investment meeting in New York today.
“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,” said Plepler.
The move was all but inevitable. HBO has been watching Netflix gain market share in the evolving video marketplace and investors have been pressuring Time Warner and HBO to go in this direction. Plepler cited 10 million broadband-only homes as an initial target for the service.
“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.
Of course the devil will be in the details. Pricing, availability, and content restrictions have yet to be revealed. A new and improved HBO GO maybe? HBO will be trying to avoid cannibalization of its lucrative subscription based pay-TV service – they are arguably the most profitable channel operating today.
That won’t be an easy task and they will be under intense scrutiny. Should they be successful though, this may be a watershed moment in the ongoing transition of the traditional subscription pay-TV model. What it transitions to is still a topic of great debate. Stay tuned.