• Move is part of a global push to reach cord-cutting viewers
  • HBO sees opportunity with broadband customers in Latin America

HBO plans to expand its Web-only service to Argentina and Brazil this year, extending a global push to reach new viewers who pay for Internet but not cable or satellite TV.

Brazil is already HBO’s biggest Latin American market, CEO Richard Plepler said Wednesday at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in San Francisco. Approximately 30 million households receive broadband service in Brazil and about 70 million receive pay TV, he said.

“You’re just adding to the opportunity for the consumer to have a way to get HBO,” he said about standalone Web service. “When we looked at Brazil we saw a huge opportunity there, a huge opportunity with our current partners there. Same in Argentina.”

With more consumers watching videos online, programmers like Time Warner Inc.’s HBO premium channel are racing to sign up viewers who don’t subscribe to conventional pay TV. The network operates standalone streaming services in nine territories worldwide, including the U.S., where its $15-a-month Web service, HBO Now, has gained 800,000 subscribers since being introduced last April.

In January, HBO announced plans to start a standalone service in Spain, opening a new front against Netflix Inc. in an increasingly global competition for “cord-cutters.” HBO unveiled the online service in Colombia at the end of last year.

In the U.S., Plepler said HBO Now will be available later this year on Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBox consoles, and HBO will begin aggressively marketing the Web service once new programming from Jon Stewart and others has been introduced.

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