HBO will launch its Nordic streaming service in mid-October, offering customers top shows without the need for a pay-TV subscription.
Details of the ‘other-the-top’ (OTT) service come after HBO announced plans to move into the territory earlier this month, and marks a challenge to Netflix, which is due to enter Scandinavia later this year.
HBO Nordic will be available in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark, priced at less than €10 (US$12.60), giving access to shows like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.
The service is a joint venture between Time Warner-owned HBO and Parsifal International, a firm started by digital entrepreneur and European pay TV veteran Peter Ekelund.
Though HBO already offers content on-demand via the web in the US and other European territories through its HBO Go service, this is available as an add-on for HBO TV subscribers, and not as a standalone service.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings commented on the new competition: “Excited to see HBO join us in offering standalone streaming service in Scandinavia… what about the USA? We thought the first match-up would be in Albania.”
His words were a reference to a 2010 New York Times interview with Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, who dismissed the threat of Netflix at the time by saying: “It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world? I don’t think so”
Netflix said earlier this month that it would also roll out in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland before the end of 2012. The move marks the second phase of Netflix’s European expansion, following its launch in the UK and Ireland earlier this year.
Speaking to C21 last week, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said: “The Nordics are an attractive territory for us because of the very web-savvy consumer-base, a very strong economy, very strong preference for English-language content.
“The taste and sensibilities of the population are similar to other territories we operate in, and we want to pick territories where we believe that we can get to scale quickly.”
However, he stressed that Netflix aimed to be a “global company”.
He also added that Netflix would “cautiously move forward” with its original content strategy following Lilyhammer earlier this year, claiming the production push was motivated by the absence of content deals with the likes of HBO and Starz.
“The money that we’re spending to produce original programming, I would have much rather spent licensing from HBO for sure, because it would meet the same market segment that we’re looking for and it would be a more efficient way to spend the money,” said Sarandos.