Next year will mark the first time you will be able to watch Game of Thrones without a cable subscription.
HBO CEO Richard Plepler said during an investor presentation that the company will start selling a digital version of its service — sans cable subscription — by 2015, Re/Code reports.
Up until now, viewers have only been able to catch the latest episodes as long as they paid for it through their cable TV provider.
More recently, HBO started to open up older content, including the Sopranos or The Wire, through a deal with Amazon Instant Video, which comes bundled together with Prime, its two-day shipping service.
Amazon is paying dearly for those rights, with some analysts estimating that the online retailer is spending well above $200 million annually.
If HBO launches its own streaming service, it seems the value of Amazon’s exclusive could diminish some, although HBO could also see the value in working with Amazon through further technology or distribution agreements.
Right now, the details are vague, but do hint at further partnerships.
In a short statement, Plepler said the Time Warner-owned company will go “beyond the wall” and launch a “stand alone, over the top” version of HBO in the US next year, and would work with “current partners,” and may work with others as well.
HBO has been vocal about its reluctance to open up its full catalog on the Web. At last year’s GeekWire Summit, HBO’s CTO Otto Berkes stood up for what he called “an extremely powerful and effective business model.”
Indeed, that business model helped generate $4.9 billion in revenue for HBO last year, while also keeping cable providers happy. He said at the time, “It would not make sense to disrupt that unless the upside were significantly higher than any potential downside.”
A lot of difference a year makes.
In a press release, Plepler said serving broadband homes without TV subscriptions “is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped. It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO…All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”