I don’t borrow my parents’ HBO Go password, but this very close friend of mine does. Let’s call him… uh… Nat… Finger… yeah, yeah that’s it, Nat Finger. Anyway, Nat (who is definitely not me) uses his parents’ HBO Go, and it’s really great. He loves Last Week Tonight and Eastbound And Down, and he’s looking forward to binging the first season of True Detective soon. He’s had some trouble using the service on his laptop, but it works great on his Roku, and the movie selection is surprisingly decent as well.
Nat, that guy that I know who isn’t me, would probably pay for HBO Go if he could. But Nat, this friend of mine, doesn’t have cable, so it’s not an option. Next year however, he (not me) will have the opportunity to finally get standalone HBO, as the company announced today at a Time Warner investor meeting that it would be offering the channel a la carte at some point in 2015. They’ve always said it’s not TV; now it’s really not TV.
Here’s HBO chairman Richard Plepler’s official statement on the big news:
“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. So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. 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.”
Variety reports that after the initial announcement, Netflix’s shares dropped “about 2 percent.” And it’s not hard to see why. With their focus on smart original series, Netflix has essentially tried to turn itself into streaming HBO—and now HBO will be streaming HBO, with all the competition that entails. I’m personally curious to see what this does to Netflix’s streaming movie selection. Will it try to beef it up to differentiate itself from HBO? Or has it already basically given up on the hardcore film nerd to services like Fandor or Warner Archive Instant? It’s going to be a very interesting time, for me and for my friend, Nat Finger, who is not sitting here typing this.