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Clegg: Look out Netflix, here comes HBO

BY CHRIS CLEGG | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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HBO is well-known among the masses of the world for defying the boundaries of modern television. From severing heads in “Game of Thrones” to record-breaking compression algorithms in “Silicon Valley,” the Time Warner affiliate has raked in some serious dough with the success of its productions. However, according to  Fortune magazine, HBO is set to make headlines off the screen with the implementation of its very own stand-alone streaming service that will likely coincide with the release of the fifth season of “Game of Thrones” in April of this year.

With the introduction of this new service, it will allow anyone who pays the fee (not yet disclosed) to access the contents of HBO with nothing more than a connection to the Internet, essentially (and I know this is heartbreaking) eliminating the need to go through your cable company. Sound familiar? Obviously Netflix and Hulu have had major success in this department, and HBO is clearly hoping that success will be mirrored by practicing the same system.

Not only should this new service work to the benefit of HBOs corporate revenue by attracting more customers, it should also provide a cheaper option for consumers because they no longer have to add the price of HBO (around $20 for Mediacom and Century Link) to their current cable package.

Additionally, in theory, it should reduce the amount of pirating by offering HBO content to a wider variety of people, including those who currently obtain HBO shows and movies illegally on various different websites. Whether its goals are to cut down on pirating or increase revenue, the decision to offer online streaming couldn’t have come at a better time for the company.

Given the statistics, it shouldn’t come as a surprise why HBO is making the shift from cable to Internet now when the technology has been there to do so for at least the past couple of years. Marcus Wohlsen of wired.com reports that for the first time ever, broadband users have surpassed the number of cable users in the United States. As this stat shows the prevalence of high-speed Internet over cable, it can also represent how consumers are less willing to pay for cable TV shows that can easily be found online and watched at the convenience of their own schedule. If these trends continue to persist, the future of television could potentially look a whole lot different than the way the current cable-dominated system works.

By crossing over to the web from cable, HBO has grouped itself with such companies as MTV, ESPN, Comedy Central, Fox, Discovery, and the History Channel as providers of streaming television. For the avid TV watcher, cable will still be the best route to experience a multitude of channels, but for people such as me, that mainline a select set of channels, Internet-based TV has serious potential to group me into the generation of “cord cutters” that are replacing cable with Internet.

Regardless of the motive, with all these actions and the consequences resulting from them, HBO seems to be taking a step in the right direction to accomplish its goal of “building video addicts” that CEO Richard Plepler laid out in an interview with BuzzFeed in January 2014.


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