HBO Could Be Standalone Service One Day: Chairman

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HBO could one day be offered as a standalone service rather than be tied to any specific level of pay-TV subscription, the New York Post reported Tuesday, quoting Time Warner chairman Jeff Bewkes.

Since it started 38 years ago, the channel has been part of various cable packages, but with platforms such as Netflix, Google TV and Apple TV gaining in popularity, Bewkes suggested Monday at a UBS media conference in New York that there were other options.

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He told the conference that if HBO was "overly hindered by having to be part of $60, $80 or $100 packages, we could [sell the channel] through existing distributors" or via new digital platforms.

But, Bewkes added, before any radical change was offered to viewers, he would see how the new HBO Go fares in tandem with pay TV partners.

The company was also working on tablet applications that would make it available on Apple's iPads by the next quarter and on smartphones in 2011.

Separately, Bewkes addressed investor concerns about Netflix, saying its streaming video model would need to change to fit the economics of television networks, MarketWatch reported.

"It doesn't make sense for our networks to license shows to a subscription service that isn't paying anything close to the value of those programs and makes 100 episodes of them available at all times," Bewkes said.

By making so many TV episodes available, he added, Netflix was devaluing the second and third syndication cycles of many of those programs and hampering further DVD sales.