I've been saying for years, dump your huge cable bill, cut the cord and start saving money now. Today's HBO news is one more major step in that direction. For all the folks who didn't want cut cable because they'd lose HBO's "True Detective," "Game of Thrones" or other top-notch programming from the network, this is huge.
HBO, without a cable subscription. YES!
Of course HBO is known for movies, award-winning original programming, and soon as the first premium cable network to join the streaming game. Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler announced that the premium channel will launch a standalone streaming service, next year.
What Plepler has not shared is how much it will cost or whether the company will use its own technology or work with existing players. The chairman did offer, "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 decision is likely a response to the unprecedented popularity of Netflix - a programming option that is available without the need to purchase a core cable package. Of course, while Netflix continues to grow - it is by no means clear that the streaming market is large enough to replace HBO's cable-based customer demographic.
A "no cable required subscription" makes it much easier to become an HBO subscriber. Of course, over the last few decades, the network's marketing has come from its cable company relationships. Going standalone will certainly impact that.
Don't be surprised to see a slightly different selection of online programming - I don't think HBO is quite ready to cannibalize its traditional business model. Though, if the online streaming shows numbers, HBO may become more aggressive.
I have just one question - could HBO be too late to the game? There is no question that the channel's award-winning program lineup is top-notch, but Netflix is far from being the only challenger in the world of online streaming. Hulu and Amazon Prime have been gaining popularity, with Prime actively adding original programming and licensed content.
So while there are still some questions to be answered, cord-cutters can start thinking about adding HBO to their lineup - which probably won't sound like bad news to many.