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HBO to start stand-alone streaming service in bid for a new generation of viewers

HBO hopes to loosen ties with cable and satellite systems by offering its trademark movies and original programs, such as “Game of Thrones,” in a stand-alone service on the Web. HBO via AP file

NEW YORK — HBO revealed Wednesday it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service.

The premium cable network, which is home to original programming and movies, is attempting to lure a new generation of viewers who might never pay for traditional television packages or who have canceled cable or satellite service.

Richard Plepler, chief executive of HBO, pointed to 10 million US homes that pay for broadband connections but not a traditional TV service.

“That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped. It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO,” he said. “All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO, and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”


The new service represents one of the boldest moves from a television group to make its programming available via Internet connections. It comes as television groups face increased competition from such services as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu that make content available outside the traditional television business model.

Other details about HBO’s new service were not immediately available. HBO now makes its content available over the web to subscribers via its HBO Go service.

The news came as HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, outlined its plan for growth during an investor meeting. Three months after rejecting an $80 billion takeover from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, chief executive of Time Warner, is being forced to make his case that Time Warner is better off going it alone.

That strategy includes a combination of increasing original programming, exploiting digital business opportunities, expanding internationally, and cutting costs across Time Warner’s television and film properties, which include the HBO network, Turner cable networks, and Warner Bros. film studios.


Bewkes said it was a “new era” for the company and investors could expect Time Warner to more than double its earnings in the coming years.

The stakes are high. Time Warner now stands alone as a pure entertainment group after Bewkes shed the conglomerate’s cable, Internet, and magazine businesses in recent years.

“We have transformed our company to take advantage of these opportunities,” Bewkes said. “We now have a unique combination of global scale and at the same time an intense focus on great video content.”

Pending consolidation among cable and satellite companies raises questions about whether Time Warner has the scale it needs to compete on its own. At the same time, huge changes in how people watch television and movies are cutting into audiences, upending traditional business models.