HBO to go OTT in the US
Michelle Clancy
| 16 October 2014
HBO has finally pulled the trigger on plans to offer a standalone over-the-top (OTT) multiscreen service, to launch in 2015 in the United States.

HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler told investors that the premium cable network plans to go after the ten million broadband-only homes in the United States.

"That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped," he said. "It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO."

Pay-TV providers will still be part of the equation, but the goal is to expand into new segments. He said that HBO "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 has always been distributed by cable and satellite operators in a lucrative arrangement that has historically benefitted everyone involved. It did however launch a standalone service in the Nordics in 2012, leaving many wondering if it would expand that model to other markets. Then earlier this year, it inked a deal with Amazon to offer some of its older series on a streaming basis, available to non-HBO subscribers; in short order, offerings like the Sopranos, Band of Brothers and The Pacific became some of the most popular series being streamed by Prime Instant Video.

Netflix has long identified HBO as its primary competition a characterisation that HBO has long rejected, citing a large difference in the amount of original content that each generates. Nonetheless, Netflix CEO issued a statement on HBO's move shortly after it was announced on Wednesday.

"Starting back in 2011 we started saying that HBO would be our primary long-term competitor, particularly for content," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a letter to shareholders. "The competition will drive us both to be better. It was inevitable and sensible that they would eventually offer their service as a standalone application. Many people will subscribe to both Netflix and HBO since we have different shows, so we think it is likely we both prosper as consumers move to Internet TV."