October 15, 2014 Last Updated 12:16 pm

HBO says cord cutters will get chance to subscribe to its service starting next year

It is fair to say that a lot of television viewers were waiting for this: the first subscription service to say that they will offer TV viewers a chance to buy a stand-alone subscription without having to have cable. HBO announced it will offer such a service starting next year.

“It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO,” said Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO while speaking at the Time Warner Inc. Investor Meeting today.

“So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. 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.”

What the reaction from the cable companies might be will be interesting. They could decide to simply stop offering HBO as an option, calculating that the price of adding HBO on its own will be too high for many viewers. They could also just not react at all, hoping that there are not than many viewers really eager to cut the cord from cable completely.

The real game will be played by other services such as the sports channels tied to leagues who could offer the same service, encouraging more viewers to cut out the cable companies. This is one reason DirecTV was so eager to resign the NFL for its exclusive ‘Sunday Ticket’ package.

The announcement came at a time when HBO’s owner, Time Warner, has been fending off takeover efforts from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Combined with layoff reports at Time Warner properties Turner Group and Warner Bros., the company needed a bit of news to convince investors that it will be making the right growth moves.

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