Overnight HBO boss Richard Plepler announced that the Cable TV Network would be changing their model and providing an “Over The Top” (internet only) service to the market. “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO,” Plepler said.’

Huge news for the 10 million or so households in the US that don’t have/cut the cable in preference for internet only services like Netflix or Hulu, and especially massive news for this guy.

While it wasn’t announced that the service would be exactly like HBO Go (the system Foxtel’s Go service is modelled on) there’s lots of people in the US excited about what it represents. HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall notes: “My guess is that this service, whatever it’s called and however much it winds up costing, will not offer all the features of HBO Go, but some kind of compromise that tries to keep everyone mostly happy.”

A win for the American TV consumer, no question (and likely for HBO’s bank balance too).

As for what it means for Australia… well, it’ll be an issue at Foxtel HQ, that’s for sure.

Given Foxtel’s very strong views of late regarding people accessing content from overseas like Netflix via VPN and other services and them sticking to the phrase “illegal downloading” when referring to it they won’t be happy. HBO opening up an online service akin to Foxtel’s will mean those that choose to pay for HBO’s new deal and already have access to the US sorted out will likely do so. In droves.

It also blows apart Foxtel’s last great bastion of premium TV – the only way to “legally” get Game of Thrones in Australia thus far has been to subscribe to their services. With HBO currently locked away to only customers with a HBO cable account there’s no other way to see it ASAP. It’s been Foxtel’s ace in the hole.

‘You Australians want top quality US drama like GoT, Boardwalk Empire, Girls, The Newsroom, True Detective and the like? You gotta get Foxtel if you want it fast & stay connected to the global conversation or avoid spoilers or whatever.’

No doubt Foxtel will increase pressure on the Federal Government to lockdown access to overseas content services for regional copyright protection reasons. It is an issue given that the current act is well out of date and doesn’t account for access to any services using the internet. Absolutely the Copyright Act needs review – just not only on a sole provider’s terms.

Many have long suggested that horse has bolted and while this announcement from HBO is hardly the last nail in Foxtel’s coffin it has certainly has handed the consumer a nail gun.

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