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When Subscription Isn’t an Option

Thank goodness someone explained to everyone why tweeting how much you’d pay for HBO Go is a useless exercise:

Think about it: Every time someone signs up for cable or satellite service, one of the inevitable perks is a free six- or 12-month subscription to HBO. And those free subscriptions are rarely, if ever, cancelled once the trial period ends.

What would happen if HBO no longer had the pay TV industry’s marketing team propping it up all the time? The results would be disastrous, and there’s no way that HBO could make up in online volume the number of subscribers it would lose from cable. Which is why, even though some users would actually pay more for access to HBO GO without all the other cable channels, you won’t see it show up as a standalone service anytime soon.

What’s more, I find the whole attitude that HBO must be stupid to not offer this to be the most obnoxious part. Are we really to believe that no one inside HBO has considered this? There are a lot of complexities to any market and the reason a company isn’t doing something that seems obvious is hardly ever because they haven’t thought of it. Or, if you don’t believe me, listen to what Dan Frommer has to say.

And actually, whenever I read anything about this topic I think back to this piece from 2007 by Joe Nocera about a la carte cable.

June 6, 2012 // This post is about: , , , , ,


  • Armando Alves says:

    that’s a US centric point of view. People from abroad, would gladly welcome a HBO digital subscription instead of waiting 3+ months for the newest series of episodes

  • Justin Kalifowitz says:

    In 2001, the major record labels, heavily influenced by protectionist sales and distribution executives, felt that it couldn’t offer a subscription service akin to Napster because it would decimate their traditional business. Physical retailers, from Tower and Virgin to Wal Mart and the local indie, offered extensive promotion and reliable sales—in many cases, subsidizing the retail price on the order of 20 – 25%. Today, everyone laughs at the record business for this shortsighted approach.

    While I’m not suggesting that HBO offer a direct subscription for 24 hour a day online-viewing, its brand offers it a unique opportunity to experiment in more creative ways than the current HBOGO offering.

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