This is big news: HBO just announced it will launch a web-only service sometime next year. Meaning, you can get HBO with no cable subscription. Yay!
HBO CEO Richard Pleper made the announcement at an investor presentation today. He said:
[There] 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. 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.
No word on pricing, although considering HBO costs $7 per customer per month for cable companies, and keeping in mind the cost of services like Netflix, you could assume standalone HBO will probably be in that under $10/month ballpark. Price notwithstanding, this is huge news, and it's something the people have been wanting forever.
This is a good thing for everyone. HBO gets to tap into millions of homes that don't have HBO or aren't stealing someone else's passwords. And people get HBO without having to pay for a full-on cable subscription. Furthermore, it's easy to see how an HBO, Netflix, and Hulu combo would be cheaper than cable. And you'd hardly miss anything at all! Except for live sports, with ESPN still holding out on this future of TV (which finally seems to be taking hold).
Signs have been pointing to a free range HBO for a while now. HBO cut a deal with Amazon earlier this year that set its exclusives loose into Amazon Prime, and that little experiment seems to be going well. Although, the forthcoming HBO solo offering must be more robust than the Amazon version, or else HBO wouldn't be making it a thing in the first place. Another question that comes up is what happens to password sharing? Unclear at this point, but all these details aside, cable-free HBO is good news.