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About Darn Time: HBO Is Considering Offering HBO GO to Non-Cable Subscribers

Good news, HBO-less Game of Thrones fans. HBO has heard your pleas to make HBO GO, their online streaming service, available to those who don’t have cable. And they have responded with a resounding “Maybe. Eventually.”

Hey, it’s better than “no.”

In a recent interview HBO CEO Richard Plepler acknowledged that, yeah, if he wants to maximize the number of people who watch Game of Thrones legally, then HBO probably needs to provide more options for them to do so.

To that end, Plepler explained that HBO is open to the idea of  bundling HBO GO with broadband cable service in the same way HBO is currently bundled with cable TV service, made easier by the fact that many of the cable TV providers HBO partners with (like Time Warner, Verizon, and Comcast) offer Internet services as well. Though they “would have to make the math work,” he clarifies, it could break down to something like $50 a month for broadband, plus another $10 or $15 for HBO Go.

Said Plepler to TechCrunch:

The most important thing for us is creating content that is addictive. … And if we continue to create great content, then the means of distribution, while very important — people are going to find it. So what we want to do with HBO Go is give people as much optionality as we possibly can. …
Where do I think we’ll be in five years? I think there may be even more optionality, but with our partners. With our partners in the cable business, satellite business, and the telco business. Maybe even a broadband-only HBO delivery system. Who knows? We’ll see where that goes down the road.

This is very good news to a lot of Game of Thrones fans. In order to get access to HBO GO and (legally) watch Game of Thrones as it’s airing (as opposed to waiting months for the DVDs) one has to subscribe to cable and pay extra to get HBO, which adds up to around $100 a month. For many that’s an impractical restriction just to get one TV show, which has led to Game of Thrones being the most pirated show there is. You may disagree, but I firmly believe that a large number of people who pirate Game of Thrones would rather pay for it–it’s just that, if they don’t have cable, that’s a ridiculously expensive proposition. So of course they pirate.

HBO seems in no rush to make HBO GO available to the willing-to-pay masses, which makes sense. Peter Kafka at All Things D writes that the HBO Go/broadband bundling option probably won’t happen “for a long time, because right now the current system — where HBO (and Showtime) are only available to pay TV customers who also buy a lot of other TV channels — works well for the guys who own the shows, and the guys who own the pipes,” i.e. the cable companies.

But hey. At least HBO is aware that there’s a problem in their current model, and they seem interested in fixing it. That’s something.

(via: Deadline, Geekosystem)

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  • Anonymous

    HBO, let’s discuss this as adults. I would rather pay for the goods you and companies like you provide. I don’t want to steal it or watch pirated copies, but what’s a girl to do? I understand you’re losing money and I don’t like it because I have a moral code (even if it is slightly off center.) You make HBO GO available to me and I will pay you HBO, I pinky swear.

  • Rachel Campbell

    This is a good move. I’m not a Game of Thrones fan, but I am an ardent supporter of streaming content and I think that networks across the board need to realize that old models are dying and new models need to be introduced. I’m happy to pay for the content I want. But I ONLY want to pay for the content I want–not all the garbage that gets packaged alongside it.

    I hope they do this soon, and I hope it brings in lots of revenue for them, to encourage other networks to explore digital media more aggressively. This needs to happen.

  • Anonymous

    Realistically, I can’t imagine anyone who is interested in the show *and on the Internet even a little* waiting until the DVDs come out, because if you wait nine months you’ve already gotten all the spoilers and your friends have moved on to talking about something else.

    Selling HBOgo separately would be great. Selling the individual episodes on iTunes a day later (instead of around the time the DVDs come out) would also be great.

    But right now, given the number of friends who call me right before a GoT season starts going, “Hey, so, can I borrow your HBOgo login?”, a lot would LOVE to get ahold of the episodes legally and find themselves stymied.

  • Anonymous

    HBO, do you like money?? If so, make HBO GO available sans subscription. When I first got cable in a new apartment I didn’t even know HBO GO came with my HBO channels. I kind of didn’t have a use for it once I discovered allllll the GoT episodes were on Demand. But now that I’ve gotten rid of cable it makes me super sad to know I’m missing out and I would happily pay an online only subscription so I can keep watching my GoT and my True Blood safely and legally. I mean, do we need to start a petition for this?

  • Anonymous

    They are just now considering it? Jesus, I thought they haven’t been doing it all this time because of some legal issue or something… I swear, if businesses did research, and saw what shows are pirated, and what are not, there would be a huge turn around in content on TV

  • Anonymous

    I think people should rally, and get signatures of how many people would pay $10 bucks a month for HBO Go and send it in to HBO. It won’t guarantee anything, but trust me, someone will bring up the numbers in the next board meeting, and it could get a lot of people thinking. These people make decisions by ONE thing, numbers and money. And we are showing them both.

  • sihaya

    Even then, HBO is only considering this for the United States? Because in my case (living in Spain), even if I were willing to pay 100$ for a show, I just couldn’t. And it looks like I’m not going to be able to watch it legally inmediately if they just offer the content with those cable providers. There must be a way to offer just the content of the show, streaming and paying, worldwide.

  • Anonymous

    I would be all over that.

  • Dessa Brewington

    Go on and think about it HBO. Folks will just go ahead and pirate in the mean time.

  • Cody Messick

    I’m ditching my cable subscription in July because I’m moving across the country and my girlfriend (the reason we have cable) won’t be able to move out for at least six months. On one hand, I’m glad I’ll no longer be paying for something I don’t watch very often, but on the other, missing Game of Thrones was bumming me out.

    In other words, I will definitely pay for HBO GO if they decide to go through with this.

  • Free hat

    I’m in the camp that if i could pay a reasonable monthly fee for HBO Go I would (say 10-15 a month to an internet streaming device, give my 360 some more use) but if HBO wants to keep dragging heels on it I’ll just keep on getting copies that fell off the back of the internet truck.

  • Anonymous

    But I ONLY want to pay for the content I want–not all the garbage that gets packaged alongside it.

    Me, too. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to justify $10-15 per month for the *one* HBO show I watch (GoT), but if they’d make episodes available to buy or rent individually, I’d be all over that.

  • Anonymous

    This. There are 7 billion people in the world and only 315 million of them live in the US. If they offer something to Americans alone, it means that 95.5% of world population has no legal way of getting their product. Only a complete idiot would be surprised by piracy in this situation.

  • Tristram

    HBO, here’s the deal: Provide HBO Go as a separate product that I can use on ANY Internet connection. Do not force me to get a cable subscription; I haven’t done cable for years. Establish a reasonable price – I’d probably be willing to pay up to $20 a month. If you don’t want to do this that’s fine. You won’t be getting my money, but I will still be able to download those HBO shows that I like. I’d rather pay you. It’s your call – do you want my money?