When HBO first announced its intention to sell a standalone OTT service, many speculated that in order to placate wary pay-TV providers, the service would only be sold by TV providers and bundled with broadband. That’s why so many people were surprised when CEO Richard Plepler appeared on stage at a recent Apple press event, announcing that Apple devices would be first in line for the imminent launch of HBO Now, suggesting that the cable companies would be out of the picture. Now, the original speculation has proved true, with an announcement coming from New York-based cable provider Cablevision that they’ll begin selling HBO Now to their broadband-only customers.
As HBO and other networks begin offering their content online, independent of cable subscriptions, they risk running afoul of the cable companies who continue to deliver a big chunk of their revenue. As they make the transition to the web, many are walking a fine line, trying their best to preserve their relationships with pay-TV providers, while still cashing in on the growing appetite for their content among cord-cutters and other online viewers. Since Cablevision is currently the only company with plans to sell HBO Now outside of Apple devices, it is possible that other pay-TV and bandwidth providers will indeed be the means through which consumers access the standalone HBO service.