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Just a couple of months ago, HBO paved the way for fans of Game of Thrones and Girls to get the subscription cable channel’s shows without paying for that costly cable package. At the time, the network planned to present a streaming service standalone option that would be available sometime in 2015. This week, HBO announced that the service will be available for purchase much sooner than expected. Think Game of Thrones time of year sooner. If everything goes according to plan, homes can expect to be able to purchase the standalone service this April.
Originally, the standalone service was going to be set up in-house, but reports this week indicate that HBO has now signed on a company to build the necessary technology externally. In a new report, Fortune also mentions that this may lead to changes for people who currently use HBO’s streaming service connected to a cable package, HBO GO. GO has had problems with outages in the past, namely when some of the network’s biggest shows have aired, including the aforementioned Game of Thrones and True Detective. The problems with the technology have been apparent, leading the Chief Technology Officer to resign and HBO to make the decision to outsource its latest streaming technology.
None of this makes it seem as if HBO is in a good position to launch its promised standalone service in four months or so, when Game of Thrones is expected to premiere. However, HBO seems to be keeping the short-term game in mind when outsourcing its streaming service. Game of Thrones is far and away the subscription cable network’s most popular program, and if HBO plans to launch the standalone service, it should theoretically get the most interest from audiences during the period when its most popular show is airing. So while the launching date isn’t set in stone, you can bet your bottom dollar HBO will be working to get the service out by April.
Regardless of when HBO standalone does hit the market, it should still prove to be a big deal for TV watchers looking for alternate means of watching television. So far, Netflix and Hulu have offered consumers affordable ways of watching television, but HBO’s standalone service is special because it offers fans an a la carte way to watch each of the network’s shows as they come out.
While HBO was the first to announce a standalone service, just a couple of months ago, CBS also announced and unveiled CBS All Access, a standalone streaming service that costs audiences $5.99 a month and gives viewers access to big hits like The Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls, as well as CBS’ back catalog, which includes stuff like Cheers. CBS and HBO are a bit ahead of the game with the standalone streaming services, but this could be a viable option for other cable, network and premium cable stations moving forward. We’ll keep you posted as HBO gets close to that April launch date.