Despite the rampant piracy of its shows and the proliferation of its streaming app across multiple devices, HBO has continued to rule out the possibility of an a la carte subscription for online viewers. However, the CEO of HBO's parent company said today that he's open to a broadband-only HBO option — provided that it's bundled with an internet subscription from a cable or satellite provider, that is. Deadline reports that Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes made the comments at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York, stating that the combination would be an "offer you can't refuse" and that "we see growth there for HBO in that."
Users of HBO Go currently need to have a standard subscription to HBO through their television service provider in order to watch programming. Allowing cable and satellite companies to offer an online-only package would work, in Bewkes' estimation, because it would give customers the access they want while also protecting the relationship between HBO and those very same cable and satellite providers it depends upon for traditional distribution.
The CEO also went on express doubt about the kind of internet-oriented TV solutions the companies like Intel are prepping, stating that issues like ads and long-term viability hadn't yet been addressed. Variety reports that he also raised red flags about the resulting increase in online traffic, saying "I'm a little skeptical about whether that's really going to happen and be done in a healthy way that can take the traffic that used to be on the interstate, which is what you are doing on your TV, and move it over." Bewkes also said that if internet-based TV services were to take off, that he expected cable companies to raise their broadband rates on heavy users in response, potentially creating a financial incentive to stick with traditional cable.