Will HBO and Showtime Becomes OTT Providers?

As it stands now, if you want to watch the latest episode of “Boardwalk Empire”—legally, that is—you have to pay an extra fee for HBO on top of your already considerable cable bill. Or you better hope one of your friends who has HBO doesn’t mind inviting you over every Sunday night.

But this situation of only being able to get premium channels through cable providers might become a thing of the past.

Earlier this month, Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, and Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, indicated that they may move to offer their premium channels—HBO and Showtime, respectively—to customers as streaming over-the-top (OTT) content, similar to Netflix or Hulu. In other words, instead of having to stomach considerable cable bills simply to watch HBO or Showtime, customers might soon have the option to pay for the service separately, just as they do for Netflix.

Speaking at Goldman Sachs’s 23rd annual Communacopia in New York City, both CEOs seemed to indicate their preference to move toward streaming services. “I can see sometime in the future, and I don’t know how long that is, where we’re able to offer a Showtime product and stream it overseas internationally,” Moonves said at the conference, adding that his company is keeping an eye on how HBO fairs in Scandinavia, where the premium channel is currently testing an OTT subscription service. “We think it’s very smart,” he remarked.

While HBO has already crossed the threshold as an OTT provider, at least overseas, it appears as though Showtime isn’t quite ready to move forward with similar plans. But Moonves indicated that his company is “absolutely” interested in pursuing a streaming subscription service.

So, it remains to be seen whether premium channels will be offered in the U.S. as stand-alone streaming services. But the technology is here, and so too is the demand. Likely, it’s only a matter of time before the concept becomes a reality here.