HBO is reportedly planning to release a stand-alone service this April to coincide with season five of “Game of Thrones.” The network has confirmed it has hired MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) to run a stand-alone service, but hasn't officially announced a timeline.
HBO’s stand-alone service will look different than its on-demand streaming HBO Go apps, according to a report from Fortune, which first broke the news about the network’s deal to outsource development of the project. MLBAM also runs WatchESPN, MLB.com and the WWE Network and will run HBO’s stand-alone service when it launches.
“The option we chose instead was to enlist a highly skilled partner in MLBAM who we are confident can help achieve our goal of a robust stand-alone HBO streaming service,” HBO chief executive Richard Plepler told the Wall Street Journal. “That certainly doesn’t diminish the terrific work done by our technology team.”
The cable network, which is owned by Time Warner Inc., had plans to develop the new service using its existing HBO Go team. It canceled the project after executives doubted that Chief Technology Officer Otto Berkes, who oversees development of HBO Go, was capable of completing the stand-alone product, which is reportedly codenamed Maui.
Following the initial report, Berkes resigned from HBO. HBO bosses were reportedly disappointed by Berkes’ management of the HBO Go service, which has been interrupted several times this year. CTO was also expected to upgrade HBO Go and launch new products, but “did not deliver,” an anonymous source told Fortune, which also published a joint memo sent by Mark Thomas and Drew Angeloff, both senior vice presidents for HBO.
The memo announced the cancellation of Berkes’ Maui project, and said that a time crunch was behind the decision, rather than a judgment cast on the team. It also said that the company’s top priority would be to support MLBAM's April launch of the service, but it would consider using most of the canceled internal efforts toward HBO Go.