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Cutting the Cord: HBO to Offer Standalone Streaming Service Next Year

Netflix’s chief content officer once said that the streaming giant’s goal was “to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” Today, that race is looking closer than ever.

During an investor presentation hosted by parent company Time Warner earlier this morning, HBO CEO Richard Plepler announced that the network would launch a digital streaming service at some point next year.

This marks a vast step beyond HBO Go -- the network’s current streaming option, which launched in 2010 and is only available to viewers with a cable subscription.

But Plepler called the roughly 10 million broadband-only homes across America today “a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” according to a press release. “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.”

Related: HBO Hedges on Social Media to Reach 'Challenging' Demographic

Details remain mum on pricing as well as how the service might be distributed. And in touting the “over-the-top” product, Plepler walked a fine line in acknowledging HBO’s long-standing partners in cable while conceding the undeniable rise of streaming video. “We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners.”

For instance, the online-only option could be sold through HBO’s existing cable providers, Plepler suggested, or distributed via new partners like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, according to Entertainment Weekly. Alternatively, HBO could skip a middleman altogether, a la Netflix, and market the service directly to consumers.

Related: With Its First Original Movie, Netflix Aims to Upend Old-Fashioned Film Distribution

HBO isn’t the only company making a stated streaming play today. Google just announced its very first set-top box called the Nexus Player, which enables users to stream movies, listen to music and even play video games with a video game controller (sold separately.)

While Google already vends the Chromecast, a $35 dongle that plugs into televisions, enabling viewers to wirelessly stream media from their PCs, smartphones and tablets, the Nexus Player is capable of this and more.

A voice-activated remote control, for instance, will provide access to a wide variety of third-party apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Google Play. The device also features 8 GB of internal storage. Created in conjunction with Asus, it is the first device to run on Google’s Android TV operating system.

The Nexus Player will be available for preorder on Friday, and hits stores on November 3rd. It is priced at $99, according to Recode, with an additional $39 for the video game controller.

Related: How Google Is Taking Over Our Lives

Edition: November 2016

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