HBO to go online without cable in Nordic countries

(Reuters) - Premium TV channel HBO will launch a Web-only service in Nordic countries that does not require the customer to be signed up with a pay TV service such as cable or satellite.

HBO Nordic, which is a joint venture between Time Warner Inc-owned HBO and Parsifal International, will roll out both a premium TV service and the Web service in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland from mid-October.

It will be going into competition with Netflix Inc which is expected launch its own Nordic streaming service imminently.

All of HBO’s popular award winning TV shows including ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ will be available on the HBO Nordic streaming service for less than 10 euros.

At home in the United States HBO has frequently resisted calls from consumers and industry watchers to offer its popular HBO Go online service as a standalone service at any price. To gain access to HBO Go, a customer would need to be a paying premium TV subscriber with a channel package, including premium channels, typically priced from around $100.

Executives at HBO argue that separating HBO Go in the U.S. would cannibalize their business and reduce the profits generated to help create the high-quality TV shows for which the network is known.

HBO Nordic CEO Hervé Payan said in a statement that offering the online service is one way HBO could grow its digital pay-TV subscriptions in the region.

The network is rolling out its HBO Go on-demand service internationally. It provides streamed movies to HBO subscribers in nine European countries. Service in Brazil is planned soon.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once described HBO Go as the biggest competitor to his company’s subscription video rental service, which offers on-demand viewing for $8 a month in the United States. He also has said the two services are complementary and in July raised the possibility of a partnership, an idea that HBO quickly knocked down.

Like HBO, Netflix is trying to tap new markets while growth in the United States slows.

Reporting By Yinka Adegoke; editing by Andrew Hay