Changes Coming to HBO Streaming in 2015


Fans of popular HBO shows such as “Game of Thrones,” “Girls,” “The Leftovers” and “Boardwalk Empire” currently have limited options for HBO Streaming. 2015 promises to be a great year for cord cutters in search of greater variety for entertainment, as the options for viewing your favorite network and Cable shows is rapidly changing. For now, only viewers that have a broadband subscription with a traditional Cable TV company such as Comcast and Charter, or an entertainment package with their High Speed Internet provider, such as those offered with Verizon FiOS, have the ability to stream their favorite HBO programs via the HBO Go app.

Current Options to Stream Popular HBO Programs

HBO’s app requires the viewer to log in with the username and password from their Cable TV provider in order to stream their favorite HBO programs. These HBO shows are available for streaming during the regular broadcast time, and many remain available long after the first broadcast date. For some of these shows, including True Blood, The Sopranos and True Detective, HBO also allows fans to stream the content via providers such as Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Netflix long after the original season has ended. In mid- October, HBO announced their decision to release a “stand a lone, over-the-top” HBO streaming service that will allow viewers to sign in for HBO streaming without an existing Cable TV subscription. In this announcement, HBO states that they intend to work with current and new partners to reach their target market – which is the “80 million American homes” that currently do not have HBO.

Potential Impact of New HBO Streaming App

What does HBO’s announcement mean for fans of HBO shows and users of online streaming technology? Since HBO announced that they intend to continue to collaborate with existing partners, it’s likely that some form of the current HBO Go app will likely remain. While it’s uncertain as to how the new OTT app will function, it’s likely that users will be given the option of signing in with either their current provider’s login information or viewers will be given the option to sign in as a direct HBO subscriber once they have paid for HBO’s new streaming service.

Since HBO’s new service will allow anyone with or without a current Cable TV subscription to view their programs, this change allows HBO to directly compete with many Cable TV providers which might lead to a reduction in the price of some Cable TV subscriptions and packages.

Some entertainment experts feel that HBO’s new service will position HBO to become a direct competitor with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but this is unlikely to be the case, at least in the short term. For clues as to how HBO’s new OTT service will impact other streaming providers, one only has to look at the effect that CBS All Access has had on other streaming providers. Within the past month, the CBS network announced their own over-the-top streaming service, which allows viewers to stream popular CBS programs live for just under $6 a month.

Even as CBS expands it’s coverage area to include more local markets, it’s unlikely to become a serious threat to either current Cable TV providers or streaming providers such as Netflix. Most viewers currently view CBS’s service as a way to expand their entertainment choices rather than as a replacement to other providers. While HBO programs have been wildly popular in the past, most viewers also enjoy programs from other networks, so it’s likely that HBO’s new OTT app will be viewed in a similar way as CBS All Access.

Long-Term Implications of Multiple Networks Offering Their Own OTT Streaming Services

One possible change that seems more probable is that HBO may well limit the content that it allows other streaming providers to use once their current contracts expire. This would severely limit the options that fans have to stream their favorite HBO shows. Since HBO is going to have it’s own subscription streaming service for it’s programs, they really have little incentive to continue to sell streaming rights to programs such as Game of Thrones to providers such as Amazon Prime. HBO may also restrict streaming of older content such as The Sopranos, so that it is only available via their new OTT app rather than streaming on Netflix or other providers. Many older CBS programs continue to be available for streaming from Netflix, such as Blue Bloods, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. However, if CBS experiences success with their new app, they may also decide to discontinue steaming licensing with other vendors once current contracts expire.

Should this indeed be the case, more networks will likely follow the current trend, and begin to limit the programs that they allow other vendors to provide so that they can offer their own direct subscriptions and streaming apps to viewers. In the long term, it is easy to see a future in which folks pick and choose multiple streaming providers so that they continue to have access to their favorite shows. Cable TV providers will likely continue to survive by offering special incentives that make it easier for individuals to view their favorite shows for just one subscription fee without having to “juggle” various subscriptions and remember login information for multiple streaming providers. The end result may well be that folks may have more options and choices for streaming shows, movies and other programs, but end up paying the same, or a bit more, than a traditional Cable TV subscription, depending on the number of providers that they select.

Of course, all of this is speculation as to where the streaming content market may lead. Our editors are working closely with industry insiders to bring you more details as information becomes available. Please be certain to check for updates on our site early in 2015 when we hope to give you an in depth report on the price, plans, and options that will be available with the new HBO streaming app.