HBO To Launch Standalone Streaming Service Next Year

HBO will launch a standalone streaming video service in the U.S. next year that will allow you to watch HBO programming without paying for cable.

HBO is cutting the cord.

The company announced on Wednesday that it will launch a standalone streaming video service in the U.S. that will allow you to watch HBO programming without paying for an expensive cable subscription.

"It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO," Richard Plepler, HBO's CEO, said at an investor conference in New York on Wednesday, adding that it will be "transformative" for the company.

A lot of details remain unclear at this point -- how much will the service cost? Will it simply be HBO GO sold as a standalone product, or a slimmed down version with only some of the programming? Plepler acknowledged as much in his presentation, but said that for "competitive reasons," he won't be able to answer questions today.

An HBO spokesman would not comment beyond Plepler's presentation. HBO subscribers tend to pay their cable companies around $15 per month just for HBO. The Wall Street Journal, citing a "person familiar with the plans," reported that the streaming service wouldn't cost less than what TV subscribers pay.

Claire Atkinson, a media reporter at the New York Post, tweeted additional details Wednesday afternoon.

In the U.S., the company currently offers HBO GO, a service that lets people watch HBO programming on demand on many devices, though you must have a pay-TV subscription in order to use it. That, of course, hasn't stopped many people from sharing passwords.

Plelper's boss, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, said last year that a standalone service wasn't in HBO's "economic best interest." But subscriptions to pay TV in the U.S. have remained flat or slightly declined in recent years. Many people, especially younger people, are choosing to "cut the cord:" forgoing cable subscriptions and instead opting for services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

In his presentation to investors, Plepler alluded to HBO GO's popularity among millennials, citing research that said it's "the preferred streaming platform" among 18 to 24 year olds.

Plepler said the number of "broadband only" homes -- homes that subscribe to broadband internet, but not to cable TV -- is expected to grow.

"All in, there are over 80 million homes that don't have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them," he said.

HBO's announcement comes the same day that Netflix, the world's largest streaming network, is set to announce its most recent quarterly earnings. Netflix stock was down 3 percent in late morning trading.

This post has been updated with additional information.

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