HBO now poised to blaze a trail online, but will others follow?

October 16, 2014 12:17 AM

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In the mid-1990s, HBO made a strategic decision to invest more in original programming and make it the network's selling point, as opposed to the second-run movies that dominated its lineup in the early years. That programming — from “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under” to “True Detective” and “Game of Thrones” — not only won HBO millions of new subscribers, but blazed a trail for the likes of FX (“The Shield”) and AMC (“Mad Men”) to follow, ushering in a new golden age of television.

Now, HBO says it's planning to take another portentous step. Chief Executive Richard Plepler told investors Wednesday that within a year, the network plans to start selling an online version of HBO to people regardless of whether they subscribe to cable, satellite or other pay-TV service. Although i...

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