Time Warner to launch HBO as streaming broadband service

Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:20pm EDT
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By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc's HBO will launch a standalone online streaming service next year to make hit shows such as "Game of Thrones" available to people who do not subscribe to cable television.

The move to take HBO "over-the-top" - media jargon that means consumers can watch the channel with only a broadband connection - is a significant milestone for a channel long dependent on cable distributors.

It could be a further catalyst spurring more people to dump their cable subscriptions by cutting the cord. It could also prompt other media companies to follow HBO's lead.

HBO's chief executive, Richard Plepler, announced the move during an investor day on Wednesday where Time Warner's other top executives laid out plans to boost the company's growth.

"In 2015 we will go beyond the wall and launch a standalone, over-the-top service with the potential to produce hundreds of millions in revenue," Plepler said, making a reference to HBO's massive hit show "Game of Thrones."

"We will use all means at our disposal to grow. This is the most exciting inflection point both domestically and internationally in the modern history of HBO."

Plepler cited that 10 million homes in the United States are broadband-only, without cable subscriptions. Half of those homes subscribe to streaming video services. "These consumers have no access to HBO. It's a large opportunity that should not be untapped," he said.

Shares of Time Warner, also home to movie studio Warner Bros and cable network channels Turner Broadcasting, rose 2.2 percent to close at $72.21, still short of the $85 per share offer from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc which it rejected over the summer.   Continued...

Peter Dinklage portrays Tyrion Lannister in an undated publicity still from the HBO TV show Game of Thrones.  REUTERS/Handout via HBO