HBO to offer standalone streaming service…. to Nordic countries

 brace yourself hbo

HBO has been adamant about keeping its online subscriptions of HBO restricted to TV-subscribers, much to the non-TV subscriber’s dismay. Now, for the first time, HBO will be launching an online subscription service that will not require a cable subscription to HBO, reports Variety. Frustratingly for U.S. fans, it will be restricted to Nordic countries.

In Stolkholm on Thursday, HBO announced that viewers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark will be the first countries where “HBO Nordic AB” will be made available with month-to-month online streaming. The service will cost less than 10 euros per month, and launch in mid-October. For those of us who have been waiting for a standalone HBO streaming service to arrive in the West, we shouldn’t get our hopes up anytime soon. HBO has indicated that it has no intention of offering the same service to other countries.

“Each market is unique and HBO approaches each one with what we consider to believe the best business model specific to that territory,” an HBO spokesperson explained during the press conference.

But HBO’s shift and interest in offering its streaming service as a standalone product signals the first significant move in online streaming by HBO, which faces increased competition from Netflix. In 2010, Time Warner’s CEO, Jeff Bewkes, retorted that Netflix’s dominance in the TV space was as likely as the Albanian army taking over the world. As a rebuttal to Bewke’s statement, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings quipped yesterday on his Facebook page, “Excited to see HBO join us in offering standalone streaming service in Scandinavia…what about the USA? We thought the first match-up would be in Albania.”

HBO’s Nordic streaming news was announced only 24 hours after Netflix had revealed its plans to launch its service to the Nordic countries.

The motive behind HBO’s decision in the Noridic countries (and not the United States) is a complicated one. In the U.S., HBO is bound by lucrative contracts with cable providers that prevent the company from releasing a product that competes directly with Big Cable’s business. And despite all the talk about TV fans cutting ties with cable, statistics show that the number of cord cutters is likely too low to compel HBO to consider offering its HBO Go app, which requires users have a cable subscription, as a standalone streaming service. According to a Nielsen study, only 4.5 percent of television-owning homes have chosen streaming over cable. (Note that this study didn’t include homes without televisions.) On top of this, in the fourth quarter of 2011, 98 percent of viewing television was done on traditional television. Neilsen also found that only 1.5 million households in the United States cut the cord in 2011.

Streaming is, however, steadily growing as a substitute to watching television. The number of homes with free broadcast television and a broadband Internet connection has increased by 22.8 percent within the last year. We wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, HBO is compelled change their strategy in the United States. Until then, for those of outside of the Nordic countries, we’ll be forced to stick to our HBO subscription, or other means of watching our favorite HBO shows.

Home Theater

Comcast subscribers can finally stream Amazon Prime Video on Xfinity X1

Comcast subscribers who own one of the company's X1 set-top boxes can now use them to stream Amazon Prime Video, bringing some of the best shows and movies available to stream to their TVs like never before.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Bumblebee,’ ‘Alita,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, as well as new trailers for Alita: Battle Angel and Bumblebee.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2, Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.

The best 4K TV deals under $500 and over 50 inches

Big-screen TVs with high-resolution displays and 4K color have dropped so far in price that you can find highly rated 50 to 55-inch models under $500. We searched major retailers for the best deals on 4K UHD TVs.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Between sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.