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HBO going ‘over the top’ with Internet streaming service in 2015

HBO is making moves to break the pay-TV bundle by launching a stand-alone streaming service in 2015.

HBO announced plans to offer a stand-alone streaming service directly to Internet customers beginning next year, taking a giant step toward breaking the pay-TV bundle that has been a cornerstone of the television industry for more than a quarter-century.

HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler made the announcement Wednesday at parent company Time Warner Inc.'s investor day in New York.

HBO’s service is currently available only to subscribers of pay-TV packages. But growing competition and changing consumer viewing behavior has forced HBO’s hand. The company doesn’t want to get left behind as audiences migrate to the Internet to consume much of their entertainment.

Plepler did not provide many details about plans for the stand-alone service, but he promised that going “over-the-top” would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the company.

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“There is a huge opportunity in front of us,” Plepler said, adding that there were 80 million homes in the U.S. that do not have HBO service.

“That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” Plepler told investors. “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. “We will work with our current partners.”

HBO wants to keep pace with -- if not surpass -- technology giants, including Netflix and Amazon.com, that have pioneered the business of Internet streaming video.

Already HBO offers a streaming service, HBO Nordic, that is available to residents of four Scandinavian countries, including Sweden and Denmark. The company also plans to expand HBO service in international markets.

Follow me on Twitter: @MegJamesLAT


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