POLL: Would You Pay for HBO if it Were Offered as a Streaming Service Separate from Cable?

I regularly admit that I do not keep up with television shows, despite the fact that I know there are some great programs I am missing. However, the high cost of cable has never been worth the one or two shows that I attempted to keep up with, so my wife and I pulled the plug about two years ago. With Netflix streaming directly to my Blu-Ray player and easy access to Hulu for television shows, I find that I do not miss cable one bit and the amount of money we have saved has been significant.

However, there is one channel that it pains me a little to be without: HBO. The most respected premium channel is home to an enormous catalog of original series, mini-series, and made for television movies. Curb Your Enthusiasm, my favorite television show, is on HBO. So is True Blood, my biggest guilty pleasure and a perfect Summer time distraction. I have also recently finished the first book in George R.R. Martin’s  Song of Ice and Fire series and would like to see the much-hyped show Game of Thrones that is based on Martin’s work.

Despite the massive popularity for many of their shows, HBO limits access to those who pay for a full cable subscription plus a premium channel package. In various markets the cost of all that ranges from $70 – $120 per month. With each day more people are dropping their cable subscriptions and my assumption based on anecdotal evidence is that younger people are more apt to go without cable and rely on streaming services. Access to most programs is now available for relatively cheap, but HBO shows are still frustratingly unavailable (as wonderfully demonstrated by this Oatmeal comic).

According to a recent article in Forbes, despite the fact that Game of Thrones has been illegally downloaded over 25 million times just this year, HBO has no plans to make their shows more easily accessible. Co-president Eric Kessler is quoted in the article saying that cable cord cutting has been “minimal” and it is largely due to “macroeconomic” conditions, and not a general embrace of technology and streaming services by the younger generation. It seems like a naive statement, but it does seem to indicate that there will be no legal way to watch HBO unless you have a cable subscription.

Personally, I would gladly pay $15/month for access to HBO especially if I was capable of streaming it directly to my Blu-Ray player. I just do not want to pay $60/month for a needless cable service in order to do it. Some might say it is arrogant for me to demand that HBO should offer their services for the price that I’m willing to pay, but I would have to imagine that many others are in a similar situation. We live in a “Right Now” society and HBO should accommodate in order to keep their services strong and avoid alienating the younger, wireless generation.

That leads us to this week’s poll question. Vote for your answer below and share your reasoning in the comments!

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  • This is a frequently discussed topic among TV lovers. My answer is yes: I would gladly pay $15 a month to stream HBO. So would almost everyone. But under current conditions they just can’t afford to risk the wrath of the cable companies if they want to keep making expensive programs like “Game of Thrones”. I would love to see the day when an Internet streaming only model is financially viable for the channel, and I think that day will eventually come. But for now, the model they’re currently using is what has allowed for some of the greatest television programs (and greatest works of art period) ever made to exist. So waiting for a year or so for their shows to come out on DVD is a price I’m more than willing to pay. Although I’ll admit that it can be a bit lonely hearing everyone else on Twitter about how great “Girls” is when I know I won’t get a chance to watch it for quite a while. But I’ve also got more than enough other shows and films to keep me busy while I’m waiting.

    What did you think of the first “Song of Ice and Fire” book, by the way? I read all five over the span of a few months last year. They’re so good, although the last two haven’t been quite as strong as the first three.

    • I loved “Game of Thrones” and have already begun “Clash of Kings.” It read a lot like my first read of Lord of the Rings where I had to continually use an index to remind myself which characters were which.

  • Eric M

    Someone is likely more informed about this than me, but HBO is likely making serious bank through their deals with cable and satellite providers – it’s all about the money. Because of this, any online streaming service would cost more than the $15 HBO currently charges.

    For someone who missed The Sopranos and The Wire during their original run, I have no problem paying what I do for HBO’s entire catalog. I can’t say I would pay the same price if I were only interested in seeing one new show every week for a quarter of the year.

    • I think that you’re right on as to why HBO is hesitating. They are also probably keeping a close eye on Netflix and Hulu as each streaming service attempts to create streaming only original series. The problem with that, though, is that HBO has such a strong built in name that their shows would wildly outperform Hulu or Netflix.

      It would be ideal for them if they could find a happy medium – keep their service available to cable subscribers AND offer it as a streaming service for non-cable subscribers. But I assume if they attempted to offer it as a stand-alone service, cable providers would immediately cut ties.

      It’s going to take a lot more people cutting cable before it becomes a reality.

  • I love HBO. I was renting The Sopranos from Netflix until I realized the whole series was on HBO GO (on season 5 now). Boardwalk Empire is another great show, but their finest achievement in my opinion was the John Adams mini-series, probably the best movie of 2008, if it counts as a movie. Never liked Game of Thrones very much though. I’ve seen two or three episodes, but so far none of them have interested me. I would also keep the cable subscription to watch Real Time with Bill Maher, something I look forward to every Friday.

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