HBO Considering Going Fully Digital … Outside the US

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For years, millennials have looked to the heavens and prayed for the day when it might be possible to purchase the HBOGo app without having to pay for the premium television service as well. Sadly, the digital Gods haven’t smiled on us just yet, but it seems like the times are slowly changing. According to the Wall Street Journal, HBO is considering opening up their app as a standalone service … in foreign markets … selectively.

Basically, this is the same answer HBO has given whenever they were asked if a day might come where it would be possible to subscribe only to their digital offerings. Such a scenario would have to depend on the economics of the moment. In some foreign markets, where there is a strong broadband infrastructure but where HBO isn’t already making bank by licensing their content to other television networks, they might be willing to consider making their content available on digital only.

Unfortunately, that isn’t likely to include the United States anytime in the near future. Here at home, HBO is still turning in strong profits with their cable subscription service. HBOGo, the digital app that lets users watch buzzed-about HBO shows from “Girls” to “Game of Thrones,” is available only as a courtesy to members. This doesn’t stop millions of those same paying members from sharing their HBOGo IDs with non-subscribers, a phenomenon which is credited with the outsized popularity and water-cooler cache of some of HBO’s scripted offerings.

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The world of media is going digital, and it’s not surprising to see HBO slowly leaning into that trend. Though its digital service is widely popular, HBO still puts TV subscribers first. The widespread sharing of HBOGo passwords has likely taken a big bite out of that demand for a standalone service here at home, but online video and especially mobile are growing abroad. In order to compete, HBO will most likely have to get on board.

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