HBO to launch OTT service in 2015

HBO has made a long-anticipated move in announcing that its will offer a stand-alone, OTT streaming service in the United States in 2015.

Speaking at the Time Warner investor meeting, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler referred to the US’s ten million broadband-only homes: “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,” Plepler 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.”

HBO already offers a digital service, HBO Go, which is available without a cable subscription in a few select territories around the world, but is chained to pay-TV operators in the US.

The company’s OTT plans are expected to contribute to the cord-cutting trend in the US, especially among millennials, who are less likely than the older generation to pay for cable TV subscriptions. It comes at a time when several companies, including Sony, Dish Networks and Verizon, are also considering OTT ventures.

Plepler’s announcement is also seen as a defensive action against the growth of Netflix, which overtook HBO in number of US subscribers more than a year ago. Netflix now has 36 million US subscribers compared to HBO’s 29 million.

HBO Go mostly carries movies and TV series from the HBO bouquet of channels, which includes hot shows such as Game Of Thrones, True Detective, Girls, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire. However, it recently started carrying programming from other channels in the Time Warner family, such as The Knick from Cinemax.

The first episode of The Knick is available on HBO Go, but viewers have to subscribe to Cinemax for the rest of the series.