Time Warner and CBS Might Finally Be Thinking About Offering Online Subscriptions To HBO and Showtime
"All men must buy!"
I mean, I’ll believe it when I see it, but it’s about damn time they’re considering it.
At an investor conference yesterday, both Les Moonves at CBS (totally not pictured here) and Jeff Bewkes from Time Warner suggested that the two companies were open to the possibility of allowing Internet users who don’t subscribe to cable TV a chance to pay for a Netflix-style subscription to Showtime and HBO, respectively.
Bewkes told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in Philadelphia that “Up until now,” it didn’t seem like a good idea for HBO to expand its subscription base, but that “Now the broadband opportunity is getting bigger” and making the idea of a direct-to-customer HBOGo “more viable and more interesting.” Moonves said something similar in a different meeting during the same conference, telling investors that the response to his company’s recent “Showtime Anywhere” has been solid despite some kinks in the program, and that “over the next three to five years, the business will change dramatically.”
Of course, it might be even an even quicker turnaround for HBO; according to Bewkes, online HBO-only services have already been teased out in smaller markets across Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and the results were fairly successful (after some beta testing issues, of course). Man, no wonder Norway’s the happiest country in the world. They’re getting Game of Thrones without having to pirate it? Jealous.
The biggest obstacle for both companies, however, is not the technical issues that come with a streaming service: it’s cable and satellite companies who worry about losing those customers who will not have to pay for television anymore to get their TV fix. But as the Internet—and Netflix in particular—continues to expand as a viable alternative to broadcast programming, eventually the number of excuses cable companies use will run out. Let’s just hope it happens sooner rather than later so HBO might get to turn those possible online subscriptions into better budgets for their shows. Who knows, maybe with the right amount of money, True Detective Season 3 will just be a single glorious 10-episode-long tracking shot?
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