HBO Hooks Up Nordic Cord Cutters; Offers Standalone Streaming Service
from the start-chopping dept
HBO has been fighting cord-cutters in the US for the past several years, refusing to offer a standalone product in any form. Its mobile offering, HBO Go, requires purchasing a subscription to HBO, and even with all the cords still connected and money laid out on the table, you're still limited to certain devices. This insistence on keeping subscribers attached to cable companies they'd rather be living without has seen HBO consistently topping the “Most Pirated” charts. Obviously, HBO would prefer “Most Subscribed,” but why buy the milk when you can get whole cow for free, minus the cableco remora?
In a move sure to please certain Europeans, HBO is now offering a completely cord-free option.
The service, named HBO Nordic AB, will allow customers in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark to stream subtitled versions of the same content available in the US. Original series like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, as well as movies that are featured by the channel, will be streamable at HBONordic.com.
The service is cheap ($6-12.50/month) and gives Nordic viewers a fairly good selection of the channel's offerings. As Ars Technica points out, this move may be a reaction to Netflix's announcement that it would be offering its services in the same region. No doubt HBO would be happier placing further down the “Most Pirated” charts and Netflix has been proven to be one of the better “pirate killers.” Offering a reasonably priced streaming option with all normally-attached strings detached is a good start.
In addition to cordless service, HBO will also be shredding its usual timetable. Currently, weeks or months pass between original airdates and the programs' appearance in countries like Norway and Sweden. With HBO Nordic AB, programs will be available to stream within a few hours of the original airtime.
Providing a desirable service at a good price and with a minimum of windowed “scarcity” is one of the only ways to put a dent in filesharing. Hopefully, HBO recognizes this and considers expanding this service into other countries. Here in the US, unfortunately, the symbiotic relationship between the movie studios, cable companies and premium offerings like HBO is too far ingrown to imagine this has even the slimmest chance in hell of becoming a reality. But, if it knocks HBO off the “Sharing Is Caring” lists, who knows? Maybe everyone involved (or at least, two-thirds) will see the potential, rather than morosely counting the “potential” losses. I can't see an offering like this making US cable companies happy, but really, does anyone care if Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, etc. find themselves on the business end of “The Shaft” for a change?