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How Unbundling HBO Could Come Back to Hurt Time Warner

HBO’s decision to finally offer a standalone broadband version of its service is likely to be a landmark step in the gradual breakup of the present pay TV ecosystem. Could it come back to hurt Time Warner?

One of the risks to Time Warner of offering HBO to non-pay TV subscribers has long been the impact on other cable channels, most obviously those within the Turner division, which accounts for the majority of Time Warner’s profits. If large numbers of people see a broadband version of HBO as a reason to start disconnecting their pay TV subscriptions, all basic cable channels that make money partly from a piece of those subscriptions will suffer.

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A smart move now would be to spin off Turner, just as Time Warner has spun off many of its other businesses over the past few years.