HBO isn’t ready to upset their lucrative distribution deals with cable providers by offering HBO Go as a standalone service in the US, but after launching an online-only option in Nordic countries in 2012 the company is reportedly looking at other markets where it could expand that model.
According to the Wall Street Journal, candidates include Japan and Turkey, two countries with good broadband infrastructure and where HBO doesn't generate a lot of revenue from licensing its programming.
The paper notes that HBO's international business accounts for about one-quarter of the company's $4.9 billion in annual revenue and growing. Overall, however, it’s still comparably small next to mature pay-TV markets like the US, giving HBO some leeway to experiment without upsetting the status quo.
The company already streams its programming over the internet via the HBO Go app to people in the US and elsewhere, so long as they are subscribed to the network through a traditional cable company. A standalone web-centric version remains elusive but it’s likely in the long-term radar -- it needs to be as video content competition increases from online services such as Netflix.
Expanding its web-only service could be used as a trial run to see how this might eventually work in the US. In the meantime, the company isn’t too concerned about people sharing their HBO Go passwords with non-subscribers (they say it’s good marketing), and you can get stripped-down $40-ish cable packages in some markets with HBO bundled in.