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Starz hints that it'll let you subscribe without cable, just like HBO

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Now that HBO plans to start offering online subscriptions, it seems like everyone else is eager to join in. On a call with investors today, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht strongly hinted that the network was working toward an online offering, though he didn't go as far as actually announcing the service. "While you will hear more from us on this over time, I can tell you now that we have the content right [and] the technology platform and infrastructure in place to ensure that the Starz businesses are positioned to capitalize on these new opportunities, both here in the US and abroad," Albrecht says.

"I assume [HBO is] talking to some of the same people that we're talking to."

It's been speculated that HBO may not simply offer its service straight to consumers and instead have it bundled with broadband service or streaming boxes, and it sounds like Starz has the same idea. "I assume [HBO is] talking to some of the same people that we're talking to," Albrecht says. That doesn't rule out a standalone offering from either company, but it's clear that the both see the value in continuing their bundling models as they expand from serving only cable. Starz already has plans to offer streaming services in some international locations, but it now appears to be focused on the US.

Albrecht says that offering its service through an online subscription is an "obvious opportunity" for Starz and other premium channels, all of which "stand to gain tremendously" from the expansion. "There are tens of millions of broadband homes that don't have premium channels," Albrecht says. "This content is the kind of content they want." Albrecht didn't suggest when we'd actually hear more about this from Starz, but with HBO announcing plans for next year, it's likely that it'll want to act soon. CBS has already begun to offer an online-only subscription, and Showtime, which CBS owns, is likely to follow.