HBO to begin stand-alone streaming next year

HBO will begin allowing U.S. customers to watch their favorite HBO shows online without purchasing a television subscription starting next year, chief executive Richard Plepler said Wednesday. 

During a speech at a Time Warner investors meeting in New York, he said HBO would begin letting customers buy the stand-alone online streaming service in 2015. 

The move will put the company's streaming service — currently HBO GO — against other online streaming companies like Netflix. 

He mentioned that around 10 million homes have Internet service but no cable subscription. 

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“That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” he said. “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."

He said the company will also continue offering traditional subscriptions to HBO and will "explore models with new partners."

Time Warner's stock price gained a little more than 1 percent as of noon after the announcement, reaching about $72 a share. Netflix's price had dropped a little more than 3 percent to $435 a share. 

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Internet TV is "going to be everything" in the next few years. 

He predicted the HBO decision would not significantly change the competitive landscape to attract consumers, since people subscribe to multiple services. But he said it would be more significant in bidding for content.

"We and HBO have completely different content. So I don't think it will be a significant impact at the consumer level. As we bid for content, that is more significant," he said.

Earlier this year, HBO came to a licensing deal with Amazon that allowed Amazon Prime customers to stream shows from HBO's archives. The agreement allowed HBO and HBO GO to withhold access to most new shows, however.

—Updated 6:05 p.m.