HBO Online Service Will Launch in 2015, Priced as Premium Product

HBO will launch its highly anticipated standalone digital service later this year, but the premium cabler remains tightlipped about what programs it will offer and how much it will cost.

“It’s a premium product and it will be priced accordingly,” HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler said during a call with analysts on Wednesday.

HBO has said it is launching the over-the-top service as a way to crack the 10 million households in the U.S. that are broadband-only and don’t have cable packages.

The premium channel made a name for itself with the tagline, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO,” but it’s no longer the only game in town when it comes to creating water cooler shows. Other digital and cable players have embraced HBO’s model of producing edgy and distinctive content.

In recent years, FX has had success with the likes of “Louie” and “The Americans,” Showtime boasts “Homeland,” and digital upstarts such as Amazon and Netflix have made waves with buzzy shows such as “Transparent” and “House of Cards.” Plepler insisted that HBO still has a competitive advantage thanks to a critically acclaimed and commercially successful lineup that includes “Game of Thrones,” “Girls” and “True Detective.”

“It’s true there’s a plethora of competition out there, but it’s also true that more is not better,” he said. “Only better is better.”

“I like our hand a lot,” he added. “We’re going to get a first look at most everything that we want to make an investment in, in terms of content.”

In some cases, digital rivals such as Amazon have attracted customers to HBO rather than siphoning them away, he argued. Last year, HBO began licensing shows such as “The Sopranos,” ” Six Feet Under” and “The Wire” to Amazon Prime.

Plepler said the exposure is increasing interest in HBO’s subscriptions because Amazon users like the content being offered, telling analysts that the Prime deal ““only has a catalytic effect of driving people back to the network.”

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