HBO on Thursday announced a new online service in Scandinavia that marks the first time the Time Warner company has taken its content directly to consumers.
Called HBO Nordic, the new service will launch in mid-October as a joint venture between HBO and Parsifal International. It will carry all of HBO’s popular shows, which include current programs like “Game of Thrones” or “True Blood” in addition to older programming and programming that it has licensed from major studios. In addition to the online service, HBO Nordic will also launch as a premium channel distributed through local TV providers in the region.
However, HBO Nordic online users do not need to prove a pay-TV subscription in order to gain access to its content; they simply have to pay a monthly subscription fee of less than 10 euros.
In the U.S. and several other countries, HBO offers an online streaming service called HBO Go that is only available to subscribers who can prove that they pay for the premium channel through a pay-TV provider like Comcast or DirecTV.
The Time Warner-owned company has frequently resisted calls to open up HBO Go to cord-cutters and other non-subscribers; Time Warner executives argue that separating the service from pay-TV subscription packages would cannibalize their business. For content companies, pay-TV subscribers are worth far more than consumers who stream shows online, mostly because advertising revenues are far higher on TV than they are on the Web.
The unveiling of HBO Nordic comes just a few weeks after Netflix announced that it would be launching a streaming content service in the same region. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has described HBO Go as his company’s biggest competitor.