Last Thursday, HBO announced that it would be offering service to “cord cutters” in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark this October with its HBO Nordic service. HBO Nordic is a joint venture between HBO and Parsifal International, an entertainment and technology company, and will offer an equivalent to the US HBO Go service but with one major difference: users in Nordic countries do not need to be signed up with a cable provider to take advantage.
In the US, HBO Go is not offered as a standalone product, and is only available to subscribers who are signed up for HBO with a cable television provider or satellite television provider. This offer is in response to a rapid change in Nordic TV users, many of whom use mobile devices, tablets and laptops for their primary television access. Nordic countries, particularly Finland, the home of Nokia, have generally been ahead of the United States in adopting mobile technologies across a majority of their populations.
HBO Nordic is the first time HBO programming has been offered in the Nordic region. All of HBO’s TV shows, including Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Veep and Girls will be available to online subscribers for streaming for a price less than 10 Euros per month. Feature films and classic HBO favorites like The Sopranos, The Wire and Sex and the City will also be available for streaming, much as they are with the HBO Go service in the United States.
HBO’s willingness to open up their programming to streaming only options should give hope to United States viewers who do not want to sign up for premium cable but would like access to some of HBO’s premium programming. Not too much hope, however; the cable and satellite providers in the United States do not want this to happen, and it will likely take contracts with those providers to end before anything like this will show up in the US.
Traditionally, summertime has been the time of reruns, game shows, and the TV shows that networks knew would not succeed during the normal television watching season between fall and spring. Networks would air remaining episodes of cancelled shows, and no new quality programming would generally air between June and August.
The new television landscape, with many of the most critically acclaimed and artistically adventurous shows now airing on cable TV, has changed all of that. Now, many of the best shows currently on television have seasons airing throughout the summer, avoiding the competition of big network shows and providing an alternative to reruns and reality shows. The two most anticipated cable TV shows this summer are an old favorite and a new drama.
Let’s start with the new drama and save the best for last. Aaron Sorkin’s series “The Newsroom” debuts on HBO June 24. The series stars Jeff Daniels and focuses on the behind the scenes action at a 24-hour cable news network, and early previews have it looking like it might be a satire of the Fox News empire. Sorkin’s had success on the big screen of late, having written the screenplays for the hits “Moneyball” and “The Social Network,” but his last TV show, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” was a major disaster. Hopefully, the freedom of content available on premium cable in general and HBO in particular will mean better results from Sorkin this time around.
The fifth and final season of “Breaking Bad,” AMC’s acclaimed drama, begins July 15 and will be the highlight of the summer for many fans of serial television. The show, which began with a simple gimmick—high school chemistry teacher gets cancer, must make meth to be able to provide for his family—has turned into television’s best drama, a dark, often brutal show that shows just how bad people can be. Get the Emmys ready for stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as the show winds down its historic run.
There are plenty of other shows beginning this summer. Check out this article from the OC Register for some more listings.