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How HBO's New Streaming Service Shakes Up the Cable-TV Business

HBO's mega-hit Game of Thrones
HBO's mega-hit Game of ThronesPhotograph by HBO via Everett Collection

HBO will offer a stand-alone streaming service to customers in the U.S. next year, removing a big brick from the shaky foundations of the cable-TV industry. ”It’s time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO,” said HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler at Time Warner’s investor meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Specifics are practically nonexistent. Plepler didn’t say how much such a service would cost, whether it would include a full slate of content, or even how people would buy it. A spokesman for HBO declined to give any additional details. But his remarks should be enough to strike fear into the likes of Comcast and Cablevision, whose business models are based on maintaining barriers to highly coveted cable programming.