As of 2015, HBO will be available without a cable subscription. That’s the big news coming out of a Time Warner investors’ meeting, in which HBO chair Richard Plepler announced that his network will roll out a standalone streaming service in the new year. “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO,” Plepler told the investors. It is not known whether he made this statement of liberation while wrapping himself in the blue cloak of Daenrys Targaryen, signaling an intent to unite all of streaming television under the banner of the House Box Office.
It’s also unknown what a standalone HBO will entail. Since Plepler was speaking with investors, he mostly covered the potentially increased revenues delivered by an “over the top” (the industry term for online media distributed without the involvement or input of an Internet Service Provider, not to be confused with a Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling movie) version of HBO Go. How much that service will cost, what content will be available, an exact launch date, whether or not subscribers will be able to stream the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling movie Over The Top—that’s all still up in the air. (Not in the air: The price of Netflix shares, which dropped 2 percent after Plepler’s announcement.) Nonetheless, it’s further evidence of HBO’s own cord-cutting desires, coming near the end of a year in which the network launched a partnership with Amazon Prime and began offering HBO Go (and, what’s that? Amazon Prime?) to AT&T customers without a cable subscription.
Undeterred by HBO’s plan to do something that’s worked very well for Netflix, Netflix has decided to do something that’s worked very well for cable and show every episode of Friends on an endless loop.