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HBO CEO describes internet-only subscriptions that probably won't happen

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HBO Go logo
HBO Go logo

The idea of an internet-only HBO subscription doesn't seem to be going away. In a conversation with Reuters, company CEO Richard Plepler speculated on how HBO could offer its service as an additional cost to customers' internet service bill, without a traditional HBO or cable TV subscription. Plepler even went into specifics on prices and partners: customers of HBO's current cable partners would pay $10 or $15 dollars per month on top of their broadband bills.

However Plepler appears to only be theorizing the plan, telling Reuters, "Right now we have the right model." While HBO might be willing to entertain selling its service outside of a broader TV subscription plan on those terms, the cable, satellite, and telco providers that it works with almost certainly would not. Not only would they be unlikely to promote and support such a package, they could discontinue offering HBO altogether, or even cease carrying other, less valuable Time Warner properties as well — making this more likely to be a thought experiment from HBO's chief executive, without real substance or plans in place. "Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve," Plepler told Reuters. He later noted, "We would have to make the math work."

Cutting the cord won't be easy

The demand for a standalone HBO Go subscription rose last June after a website petitioning for an internet-only option gained wide attention. HBO ultimately responded to the website's creator over Twitter, pointing him to a TechCrunch article that pointed out the difficulties that the premium cable provider would have making the transition, including losing valuable support from the cable companies that have long handled delivery of its service. Any real plan for an over-the-top subscription to HBO Go would first need those companies' support.