HBO CEO Richard Plepler is considering the possibility of partnering with broadband internet providers to widen access to the company's HBO GO streaming service for non-subscribers. Plepler told Reuters, "Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve."
HBO GO launched in 2010 to let subscribers watch the cabler's shows on laptops, iPads and other internet devices. There are currently about 6.5 million GO subscribers, compared to 29 million viewers of HBO's main service.
For the HBO GO package, monthly bills can run up to $100 or more. In the alternate package envisioned by Plepler, GO could be included with a person's internet service, sidestepping the requirement of subscribing to HBO and thus reducing fees. (This process is already sidestepped, albeit on the relatively micro level, by HBO GO password sharing, something the channel hasn't discouraged.)
Customers would pay $50 for internet service, plus an additional $10-$15 for HBO GO, Plepler speculates.
While this possible plan would give HBO a competitive edge to sites like Netflix -- which is going whole-hog on the original content streaming online model as evidenced by recent "House of Cards" and upcoming "Arrested Development" -- HBO would face significant hurdles in terms of its traditional distribution partners, which give the company hefty subscription fees. It wouldn't want to throw those lucrative relationships into jeopardy.