Sorry, non-cable subscribers. If you’re hoping that HBO will turn their online streaming service of all available content into a standalone subscription service like Netflix, you’ll be waiting for awhile.
Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes recently talked about the possibility of turning HBO GO into a subscription service without paying for the channel through cable providers and said, “We have the rights to do it and we would do it if we thought it was in our economic best interest.” However, Bewkes notes that the market is “not sufficiently big enough now.”
The demand from potential subscribers, especially those vocal about it online, might make you raise your eyebrow, but there’s logical reasoning behind their lack of motivation. Deadline says Time Warner wants to keep all the cable and satellite providers happy, and if they offer HBO GO as a standalone service, some people might just abandon their cable subscription altogether. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship right now. It probably doesn’t help that Time Warner has their own cable service they’re trying to protect as well – so they are probably a little biased.
The report comes after HBO chief Richard Piepler hinted that HBO GO might be a service that could come with phone or internet – instead of just cable TV. But this more recent statement seems to backtrack that potential.
The idea of offering HBO GO by itself isn’t completely new either. In fact, the service is already offered without cable TV subscriptions in places like Scandinavia. But in an established market like the United States, the potential distribution model isn’t appealing enough – and could even be detrimental to Time Warner. Still, with the increasing amount of tablets and phones with the ability to stream media on the go, there’s a good chance that HBO will make the change sometime down the road, but just not immediately.
As always, it’s a business decision as opposed to providing the most consumer and fan-friendly content platform. But keep your fingers crossed, toss coins in lucky fountains, and maybe HBO will take the subscription model plunge sooner than later.