Fans of HBO programming have called on the network to make a standalone streaming service for quite a while now. The initial response from the network said it was impossible, but a little hope came in March when the network’s CEO said that it might offer a standalone service if it could “make the math work.”
Unfortunately for fans of HBO, the network doesn’t get to call all the shots. The network is owned by Time Warner, and its CEO, Jeff Bewkes, says that a standalone streaming service just isn’t happening. He told Deadline that they would do it if it was “in [their] economic best interest.” He further elaborated by saying that the potential market for such a service isn’t yet big enough in the U.S.
In short, Time Warner is ignoring the rising trend of cable cutters opting instead to pretend that it’s not a market worth investing in. It’s a strategy that will work out over the short term, but data suggests that cable subscriptions are quickly becoming obsolete as more people look to services like Netflix and Hulu for content consumption.
It’s a fact that HBO will have to follow suit sooner or later. The problem for it is that competitors, like Netflix, are now creating content that rivals the kind of quality content that HBO offers. That strategy has already paid off for Netflix as its latest earnings report revealed that it now has about half a million more subscribers than HBO. That gap may widen even more as series like Arrested Development and Orange Is The New Black start airing on the service.
It will be interesting to see what happens when HBO finally does get with the times. The network must lament the fact that Game of Thrones is the most pirated content on the Web, but its lack of a standalone streaming services leaves many fans with no choice. Netflix recently found that piracy rates over BitTorrent go down when it introduces its instant streaming service in countries, and it’s a given that the HBO would see a similar reduction in piracy if only it offered a standalone service.
You’re never going to see that reduction in piracy, however, until Time Warner realizes that its potential market in the US are all those who are pirating Game of Thrones for lack of a better option.