Sick of secretly hacking your friend’s HBO Go account in order to satisfy your True Detective fix? Good news: HBO is offering its popular streaming platform as a stand-alone service in 2015. Richard Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO, announced the move on Wednesday during a Time Warner investment meeting, emphasizing this as a crucial step toward reaching more of the “80 million homes” which haven’t subscribed to the cable channel. “That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” he said. “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.”
Time Warner confirmed the news on Twitter, writing, “In 2015 @HBO will launch standalone HBO service in the US, will work with current partners & explore models with new partners.” Plepler reportedly called the decision “transformative,” noting the possibility of expanding the company’s international revenue opportunities.
HBO Go’s streaming option is currently only available to customers who subscribe to the network. But by breaking down that barrier, the company could bring major competition to other streaming platforms, including Netflix.
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The move also makes sense for HBO as an attempt to thwart piracy: As Entertainment Weekly reported (via TorrentFreak) back in June, the network’s own Game of Thrones became the most pirated series in TV history, with the Season Four finale episode “The Children” bringing an estimated 1.5 million downloads within its first 12 hours of airing. As Mashable notes, many HBO Go users share their accounts with friends and family, making log-ins highly coveted.
Earlier this year, Plepler sat down with Buzzfeed, revealing that he didn’t see the practice of sharing HBO Go accounts as a problem. “It’s not that we’re ignoring it, and we’re looking at different ways to affect password sharing,” Plepler said. “I’m simply telling you: it’s not a fundamental problem, and the externality of it is that it presents the brand to more and more people, and gives them an opportunity hopefully to become addicted to it. What we’re in the business of doing is…building video addicts.”