NEW YORK — Time Warner Inc’s HBO will launch a standalone online streaming service next year to make hit shows such as “Game of Thrones” available to people who do not subscribe to cable television.
The move to take HBO “over-the-top” – media jargon that means consumers can watch the channel with only a broadband connection – is a significant milestone for a channel long dependent on cable distributors.
It could be a further catalyst spurring more people to dump their cable subscriptions by cutting the cord.
HBO’s chief executive, Richard Plepler, announced the move during an investor day on Wednesday where Time Warner’s other top executives laid out plans to boost the company’s growth.
Plepler cited that 10 million homes in the United States are broadband-only, without cable subscriptions. Half of those homes subscribe to streaming video services. “These consumers have no access to HBO. It’s a large opportunity that should not be untapped,” he said.
Shares of Time Warner, also home to movie studio Warner Bros and cable network channels Turner Broadcasting, were up 1.4 percent at $71.62 at midday on Wednesday.
Netflix Inc shares were down 3.1 percent at $435.28 after the announcement. The streaming video company will announced its quarterly results later on Wednesday.
“In 2015 we will go beyond the wall and launch a standalone, over-the-top service with the potential to produce hundreds of millions in revenue,” Plepler said, making a reference to HBO’s massive hit show “Game of Thrones.”
“We will use all means at our disposal to grow. This is the most exciting inflection point both domestically and internationally in the modern history of HBO.”
Plepler did not disclose further details about the forthcoming service, including the price. HBO currently allows cable subscribers to access its content on mobile devices through an app known as HBO Go.
The decision to finally free HBO comes as Time Warner is under pressure to boost its share price after it rebuffed an $85 per share offer from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox in August.
Earlier in the presentation, Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said the company forecast adjusted earnings per share of $6 by 2016 and $8 by 2018.