Attention cord-cutters: Get ready to get your “Game of Thrones” on -- legally.
For decades, HBO has been sold exclusively through cable providers, meaning if you want HBO, you must also subscribe to cable TV. But that's about to change: Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday it will launch HBO as a standalone service delivered over the Web in 2015.
In an in investor presentation, an optimistic and buoyant Richard Plepler, HBO’s chief executive, said the premium network is using new measures to go after the 80 million households that aren't already HBO subscribers. That includes, Plepler said, pursing consumers “outside the multi-channel” universe.
Although Plepler declined to share specifics, the announcement is nevertheless significant. In recent years, HBO has faced increasing criticism over its unwillingness to make its content available outside of conventional methods such as HBO subscriptions and DVD sales. Its HBO Go service, through which subscribers are well known to share passwords with non-subscribers, has been plagued with glitches, including a much-publicized crash during the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” in April.
HBO shows are among the most-pirated shows on TV.
Jeff Bewkes, chief executive of Time Warner Inc., opened Wednesday’s meeting with an ambitious promise to “more than double earnings over the next several years.”
Although Bewkes didn't mention Rupert Murdoch or Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. specifically, he touted that Time Warner has “spun off about half the company” since 2000, a tacit justification of why he rejected an $80 billion takeover bid from Murdoch in June.
Time Warner had revenue of $22.1 billion in 2013, an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous year.