“We’re at a tipping point of consumers thinking Internet first and TV second,” Bryan Rader, CEO of Bandwidth Consulting LLC, said to The Wall Street Journal recently about pay-TV marketing trends. Indeed, studies show that customers are increasingly opting for small cable packages at home—often going with the most basic bundle possible—and getting their specialty programming online. And that’s not a surprise. Netflix has shown that it doesn’t matter what screen it’s on, if the programming is good, viewers will follow. While HBO has toyed with making their programming available on other devices via their troubled HBO GO service, the network is now changing the game.
Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of the network, announced today that, in 2015, HBO will launch a stand-alone streaming service to appeal to the ten million broadband only homes in the country. “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. “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.”
It’s a bold move, but not completely surprising. After all, “Game Of Thrones” was listed as the most pirated show of 2013, and we’d wager a large portion of those downloads likely came from those who wanted to view the show easily, on their time, the way they want to, without finding out when the next airing is or how to get that HBO GO thing working. This is a big step towards addressing how viewing habits have changed, while letting HBO presumably keep their classic, week-to-week format.
Thoughts? Leave ’em below.