HBO chief fuels speculation of ISP-based HBO Go offering

HBO, with 100 million subscribers, has long been considered by industry speculators as a potential threat to bypass the traditional cable TV model to offer some selection of content on its own, or with some non-traditional partners. HBO CEO Richard Plepler gave the speculators something real to chew on this week, telling Reuters that the programmer could consider offering its HBO Go mobile offering in partnership with Internet service providers.

HBO Go has only 6.5 million subscribers, but Plepler appeared to suggest the company could grow its offering by going beyond its cable TV partners to offer access as part of broadband ISP service plans. Such an offering conceivably could cost much less than a typical cable TV service plan plus HBO's access fee.

Plepler's statements come not long after Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was said to be negotiating with HBO owner Time Warner to have HBO Go included in Apple TV, and feed long-held observations from around the video services sector that HBO could craft a direct-to-consumer offering. However, Time Warner in the past has nixed the possibility of HBO Go taking a broadband-only path to consumers.

It does not appear clear from the story if or when HBO could follow through on a plan to work more closely with broadband ISPs. Observers have made similar speculations about HBO in the past, but the assumption has always been that the programming giant could destroy its existing business model ad face other complications if it sought partners outside of the traditional pay TV operators.

For more:
- read this Reuters interview

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Time Warner's CEO said HBO wouldn't pursue a broadband-only option
Apple reportedly wants HBO Go for Apple TV