For those of you (like me) who are proud HBO aficionados, this news will bring blaring horns, fireworks and loads of sparkling confetti. Make sure you’re sitting down…HBO has finally taken our advice and is now testing its popular HBO Go as a standalone project. But in all honesty, are you surprised?
Forbes reported yesterday that as we speak, a trial period is taking place in Scandinavia which allows users to enjoy a subscription model that doesn’t include an existing cable subscription. If all goes well, this means that we will soon be able to merrily watch shows such as Game of Thrones, True Blood, Girls and Boardwalk Empire – not to mention all HBO movies – via HBO Go without having that ominous $60-$120 cable bill rear its ugly, unwelcome head.
However, HBO can be given some props and an “A for effort,” as it stubbornly held its foot down with this cable package deal in an attempt to differentiate itself and its offerings among competitors. But now that an actual trial period has commenced, I don’t see this slowing down anytime soon. Remember the Twitter (News - Alert)-based protest viewers partook in last summer, where they tweeted how much they’d be willing to pay for HBO Go on a monthly basis? The prices ranged from $7 (just about much Netflix currently charges for its lowest subscription package) all the way to $25+.
Clearly, customers have a thirst for something only a standalone HBO Go can quench. Comedy site College Humor even recently released a skit called “The Secret of HBO Go” where a string of unlikely, unrelated individuals need to access one person’s password to watch HBO Go, as they refuse to pay for the cable subscription baggage. This also gives us a reason as to why Game of Thrones was the most pirated show on the Internet last year, which Forbes perfectly points out.
“Such a move would likely make many more customers consider subscribing to the channel, as currently those who are most likely to love HBO programming, Game of Thrones, Girls, etc. are the least likely to still have a cable subscription,” Forbe’s Paul Tassi writes, making quite an excellent point. All of these shows are likely affiliated with a younger demographic who is frugal by necessity, not choice.
As a regular HBO Go user myself, I have to admit that I virtually never watch HBO Go on TV, but on my Kindle Fire and sometimes on my laptop. Plus, creating and supporting a multi-channel customer experience is a blazing hot topic right now and is far from dying out anytime soon. By focusing on HBO Go as its own force, the company will surely experience an overwhelming spike in business.
So what it boils down to is this: HBO Go, which boasts a huge, unrelenting client base, for $15 per month (the price the company is currently trialing) or Netflix, which doesn’t have your favorite HBO programs, for $7.99-$10.99 per month. For those who love and primarily watch HBO, this seems like a pretty square deal, and one which I think many would jump at the chance to get.
“Once HBO finally breaks from cable subscriptions, it should be a force Netflix will have to reckon with,” Tassi concludes.
Edited by Jamie Epstein