We reported that a world featuring a standalone HBO streaming service would become a reality in 2015, we just didn’t have the definite premiere and price points at the time. It would seem that we can finally put one of those to rest because Fortune magazine is reporting that the new streaming service is coming alongside the Game Of Thrones premiere in April.
The funny part is that this isn’t even the major revelation behind the premiere date. It would seem that HBO is outsourcing their streaming needs, ditching their own in-house Maui system that brought us HBO Go. From Fortune:
Rather than build the technology internally, the company has struck a deal to use external technology offering from MLB Advanced, according to sources familiar with the situation. MLB Advanced already provides white-label streaming technology for clients like WWE Network, but HBO will likely be its largest client. It’s unclear what this means for the future of HBO Go, the company’s existing streaming service for cable subscribers.
HBO hopes to launch the new standalone streaming service in line with the Game of Thrones season premiere in April.
Now this leaves HBO Go as the elephant in the room. With the outages coinciding with the major episodes of shows like Game Of Thrones and True Detective, many were pointing fingers internally and looking for a way out. The big target seems to be HBO’s former chief technology officer Otto Berkes, someone who has been allegedly rubbing the network the wrong way since taking the job in 2012:
Since becoming HBO’s CTO in 2012, Berkes has brought in a number of his ex-colleagues from Microsoft and set up a large office in Seattle with 55 engineers, laying off a number of longtime employees in New York. The Seattle office, which is rumored to cost HBO as much as $100 million per year, has been the source of internal squabbling at the company. Insiders accused Berkes of building “a Napoleonic empire” within HBO…
According to sources, Berkes had known about a “memory leak” for nine months but decided it was a “non-issue.” That leak eventually led to the HBO Go outages. Internally, some accused Berkes of using the outages as a way to ask for more money to invest in his Seattle engineering team. He got the investment, but HBO executives have not been pleased with what he’s delivered. Berkes delayed product launches and was unable to deliver on upgrades. “If you look at what [HBO Go] is today versus two years ago, he hasn’t really done anything,” one source said. (via)
Another good indication is Berkes resignation soon after this story hit publication. That’s usually a good sign that the tide has shifted against you.
So this might spell the end of HBO Go, at least in the way that we currently know it. You might be forced to steal your friends new HBO stream password or worse, stream the episodes illegally. The only unstable situation would be the transition to MLB Advanced Media, something which caused quite a headache when the WWE Network launched earlier this year.
It’s a great service now, but it’s hard to see it going smoothly for a larger client like HBO. I forsee a lot of moaning online about missing the Game of Thrones premiere, although I could say that would probably happen without the streaming service. Let’s just watch and enjoy the wincing!