Farhad Manjoo writing at PandoDaily:
The only question now is, When? Or, more to the point: When HBO does come around to breaking free of cable, how late will it be? Clearly the ideal time to make this move is right this minute. Or, actually, it was two weeks ago, just before the Game of Thrones finale. In addition to the immense popularity of that nerd-bait show, HBO currently benefits from a struggling Netflix and Hulu, and a TV industry that hasn’t yet been completely remade by Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. If it had booked a few million non-cable subscribers now, and then slowly expanded on that effort over the next few years, the company could well have set itself up as a leading player in the new, many-device, multi-payment model TV world.
I disagree with Manjoo’s headline statement that HBO doesn’t know its future is in streaming. Of course it knows. It’s just stuck between a
rock television executive and hard place cable executive. The higher-ups at Time Warner view a streaming-only HBO product as harmful to their entire model of doing business. It’s not just the $15 subscription to HBO they’re worried about – it’s the $80 cable package it comes attached to.
In the meantime, HBO is losing subscribers that want a streaming option, with many of those people still getting their HBO content through illegal streaming and torrents. Right now, HBO can afford to delay a streaming plan. Their content is so strong, the service would sell whenever they make it available.