Hey everyone, listen up; it appears that HBO has finally caved and are going through with plans to launch a standalone, non-cable-subscription-requiring streaming service. Oh, in Europe, you say? Well son of a Dothraki whore....
It's true. According to Variety, HBO just revealed their plans at a press conference in Stockholm. HBO Nordic AB, which is set to launch this October, will offer all of that wonderful HBO original programming without the requirement that the viewer also has a pay-TV subscription. Obviously, this is a first (besides a very small Polish operation).
HBO Nordic AB will tackle a market that includes Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Programming will be available online for less than 10 euros per month (around $12.50), and as an add-on package for those who do subscribe to cable. And it's not just HBO content that subscribers will get - HBO Nordic AB is giving a piggyback ride to Starz and Showtime content as well.
Of course, HBO has always been tied to the add-on to cable model - and it's a fact that has pissed off more than a few cord cutters in the U.S. One of the latest outpourings of lament came in the form of a Twitter campaign called "Take My Money, HBO." That campaign saw tens of thousands of people take to the social network to offer pleas for HBO to launch a standalone streaming service - basically HBO Go, but without the ties to cable providers. Many of those pleas included a number - a monetary amount that they would be willing to pay for such a service.
HBO quickly responded with a thanks but no thanks reply. They tweeted that although they "love the love for HBO," everyone who points out that it's simply not practical for HBO's business model is right. "What's different this time around is that Scandinavia is a market where HBO doesn't have to protect an entrenched business model as lucrative as the one in the U.S., where a standalone product would jeopardize its deals with distributors from Comcast to DirecTV," says Variety's Andrew Wallenstein.
Damn right. Why jeopardize all of that to appease a small subset of ardent cord cutters?
Well, they wouldn't. For now. But the cord cutting army is growing. One recent survey put the number at as high as one-third of former cable subscribers. And out of that group, 33% said that they would never go back - even if they were offered a drastically lower price.
But it's a solid move for HBO to go after this market. There, they can compete with other streaming services like Netflix, who just announced their own expansion into the same four countries.
Any chance that this is the beginning of a trend for HBO? Not really.
"Each market is unique and HBO approaches each one with what we consider to believe the best business model specific to that territory," they said.
Well, I guess it's back to the torrents.