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Over-the-top HBO will not kill the cable bundle: Plepler

CEO Richard Plepler said Thursday that HBO isn't hastening the demise of cable bundling by offering its content outside of traditional packages next year.

There is a big temptation to see content providers as either participating in the cable ecosystem or delivering an over-the-top streaming product, Plepler told CNBC.

"It's not binary. It is multilateral," Plepler said on "Squawk on the Street." "The most important thing for us is to make HBO available in as many ways as possible to our customers and to our future customers."

HBO announced last month it would sell its programming through a standalone subscription service, allowing customers to access its slate of programming without buying into a cable package. Since then, CBS has also announced it will offer a standalone service outside the bundle.

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The decision has attracted criticism from some of HBO's partners that deliver its content.

"Anybody who sells their content over the top and also expects to continue to exist inside a bundle of services sold to cable or satellite providers, I think is really deluding themselves," Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications CEO, told CNBC in a recent interview.

Plepler said he respectfully disagrees, adding that there are roughly 10 million broadband-only subscribers that HBO and its partners can go after rather than complaining about competition. He further noted that once Comcast and Time Warner Cable merge, the combined company will have upwards of 3 million new broadband-only subscribers. (Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.)

"The truth is the business is evolutionary and for HBO, which is a content provider, we're going to work with all distributors to go out and to give the consumer the product that they want," Plepler said. "That doesn't obviate their ability to grow their business with us."

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He also defended the company's decision to partner with Amazon.com to offer older HBO content through its streaming service, saying 65 to 70 percent of Amazon Prime subscribers do not get HBO. He said the deal gives HBO an opportunity to monetize its library and hook Amazon Prime members with a taste of its content.

Plepler declined to offer details on pricing for the standalone HBO Go service.