HBO on its way to Nordic TVs and smartphones

Samsung Electronics has struck a deal to let owners of its phones watch TV episodes soon after they have aired in the U.S.

HBO is launching a TV service in the Nordic countries that will allow people to watch series such as Game of Thrones and True Blood across a number of devices, the company said announced on Friday.

Users will be able to watch shows just hours after they have been aired in the U.S. with local subtitles on most kinds of devices, including TVs, smartphones and tablets. HBO has signed a deal with Samsung Electronics as well as operator TeliaSonera, it said.

Besides new episodes, users will also be able to watch a library of old TV episodes and new movies on demand, as well as content from other producers, HBO said.

The service will cost from about ¬10 per month, and to get interest going Samsung will offer a free six-month trial. The roll-out on Samsung's devices will commence in October.

The TV business is more cutthroat with smaller margins than most other consumer electronics sectors, and content deals like the one Samsung has signed with HBO is one way the vendors are trying to differentiate their products.

The fact that HBO is launching the service in the Nordic countries is hardly a coincidence. It is a part of Europe with high broadband penetration, and broadband of high quality, along with consumers that are very familiar with its brand, according to HBO.

The company didn't mention piracy, but high broadband penetration has also allowed users to easily download its shows from unauthorized sites and helped build its brand. At noon local time on Friday, the twelfth episode of True Blood's fifth season was the most popular TV episode listed on the file sharing site The Pirate Bay.

HBO was tight-lipped about plans to launch a similar service in big European markets such as the U.K., Germany and France, only saying that it will take one country at a time.

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