Cord-cutters, your prayers have been answered. Starting next year, HBO will allow people to watch its programming over the web without having to pay for a cable or satellite subscription. The announcement came from HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler during a recent speaking engagement at a Time Warner investment meeting (Time Warner is the parent company of HBO).
Plepler said that it is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.
While a single network’s decision may not seem like a big deal at first glance, it highlights the direction that the broadcast industry is heading. The way television is broadcast and how we consume programming has largely gone unchanged for decades – a fact that broadcasters, networks and service providers would love to see continue for decades to come.
Advancements in technology – namely mobile devices like smartphones and tablets as well as the speedy wireless networks that feed them – in addition to the advent of streaming media outfits like Netflix and Hulu Plus are slowly chipping away at the industry’s lucrative business model.
What you end up with is a new category of media consumers known as cord-cutters, those that have opted to cancel their cable or satellite TV service in favor of streaming media providers that offer on-demand programming at a much cheaper rate.
Unfortunately, Plepler provided few other details on the upcoming service so we have no idea how much it will cost, when exactly it’ll arrive, what devices it will be compatible with or what specific content will be offered.
Even with a lot of blanks left to fill, it’s good to see a major network like HBO taking early steps in what will inevitably be an industry-wide shift to an on-demand, a la carte business model.