Culture

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
cable, cord cutting, hbo go, internet, pay tv, tv

Companies:
hbo, time warner



HBO Decides It's Finally Time To Go It Alone

from the timing-and-details-are-everything dept

For years, plenty of people have been wondering why HBO absolutely refused to offer a standalone internet offering for cord cutters (and cord nevers), with the general response being that "the math" was against it. Basically, HBO gets a ton of money from cable, and every time new customers sign up, that's free money for HBO without having to spend anything on marketing. A standalone product may not even bring in as much money and would require HBO to do more marketing efforts on its own for the offering. Of course, as we pointed out in response to that argument, "waiting for the math to make sense" is a kind of predictor for legacy companies that wait too long to innovate and find that the future has become the present while they're still in the past.

Eventually, the timing was going to be right, and apparently HBO has decided that time is now. Or, at least, sometime next year. The company announced plans to launch a stand-alone internet offering leading to much speculation. Actual details are lacking, and there's some speculation that it might be a very different product than the current HBO Go offering. Some are saying it may actually be in coordination with another player (like Amazon or Hulu). Reading too much into at this point doesn't do much good.

Of course, this has also led to some speculation that it may increase people cutting the cord -- and that's likely true for the segment of the population that has cable for HBO (duh) and not for sports (a bigger driver). However, the real point here may be that where HBO goes, others are likely to follow -- including sports.

HBO's decoupling with cable TV may not single-handedly change the cable TV market, but it's a sign of a much larger shift that started long before and is now dragging HBO along with it. The traditional cable TV market has been ripe for disruption for quite some time. This is just a single mile marker in an ongoing process.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 3:03pm

    This could be very interesting , good luck HBO , I'll be with you on launch day.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HBO

    As of January 2014, HBO – and its sister channel Cinemax – maintains exclusive first-run film licensing agreements with network sister company Warner Bros. Entertainment (including content from subsidiaries Warner Bros. Animation, New Line Cinema since 2005, and Castle Rock Entertainment),[84] 20th Century Fox since 1979 (including content from subsidiaries 20th Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios, New Regency Productions and Fox Searchlight Pictures),[85] Universal Studios since 2003 (including content from subsidiaries Universal Animation Studios, Working Title Films, Illumination Entertainment and Focus Features),[86][87] Summit Entertainment since 2013[88] and DreamWorks since 1996 (excluding films co-produced with Touchstone Pictures; Showtime holds rights to live action co-productions between DreamWorks and Touchstone).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 3:34pm

    I've got no use for HBO, but...

    ...if this drags along other operations and then eventually sports: THEN I have a very good reason to start paying attention.

    (I don't watch movies or dramas/sitcoms et.al., I certainly don't watch TV news or reality shows, and so the only reason that Comcast is present in my home is sports. I would love to get rid of them, their shitty services, their lying customer reps, their exorbitant prices, and just pay for the sports that interest me.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 3:42pm

      Re: I've got no use for HBO, but...

      Does Comcast by any chance also provide your Internet connection, because if so how will you get rid of them?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 15 Oct 2014 @ 4:13pm

      Re: I've got no use for HBO, but...

      Good luck getting rid of them. I've heard nightmare stories.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 10:55pm

      Re: I've got no use for HBO, but...

      It's the only reason anyone has cable. Live sports. It'll be a while before that changes though, as all the important parties have contracts into the 2020s.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 15 Oct 2014 @ 3:43pm

    Sorry, HBO, but Netflix has already gone and done what you should have done years ago.

    When HBO started was innovative. You could watch movies unedited without commercials. They opened up a new market for standup comedy that didn't censor the comedians. They even created original programming that got the public's attention. They got people to pay to watch TV after 30 years of it being free. These are all things Netflix has pioneered in the last decade.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glen, 15 Oct 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Anyone want to bet that the first release of whatever they roll out will be horribly put together and basically unusable?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 4:05pm

    But the real question: will fast-forward and rewind be available during this programming?

    (Shameless jab at video-on-demand services that are utterly ruined with senseless drawbacks that don't seem to have a reason for existing.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 4:21pm

      Re:

      HBO sucks hard on cable boxes. It's as if cable providers are deliberating trying to make it worse. However, the HBOGO app is easy to navigate and works flawlessly on my computer and smart tv.

      And yes, you can jump back and forth.

      The only reason I have cable at this point is for HBO so I'm looking forward to dropping that service once and for all!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      NorthWarden, 16 Oct 2014 @ 4:49pm

      Re: AC Oct 15 @ 1605

      Not sure about any broadcasters down in the USA, but here in Canada CTV's online player used to (and maybe still does; I'm not sure) make you watch 2 minutes of commercials after each show segment, but if you rewound more than a segment it would play past the segment break without making you watch more commercials. So nice...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Oct 2014 @ 4:16pm

    HBO

    I could see them cooperating with Hulu as a separate add-on subscription. In fact I think Hulu could see some major changes in the future. I could see Hulu being transitioned into a platform where copyright holders (HBO, ABC, NBC, etc.) sell their own subscriptions (to their content exclusively) through Hulu. Buy access to networks a la carte.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Simon, 15 Oct 2014 @ 4:50pm

    Pls get this right...

    Hoping HBO don't screw this up. There are a lot of downloaders that pointed to the fact the HBO wasn't available standalone to justify their actions. I really hope HBO work to make sure they are at least as accessible as Netflix and on as many devices as possible. They need to remember their competition is torrented mkv's, not the cable companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), 15 Oct 2014 @ 5:23pm

    Finally.
    I don't watch sports, and I certainly don't want to subscribe to the over a dozen sports channels to get one or two non-sports channels I do want.
    I will be watching as this story develops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2014 @ 12:48am

    This could be very interesting, and have a knock-on effect elsewhere. It's often stated that Game Of Thrones is the most pirated show around, and from the outside it's very simple to see why - availability. Even for those with the option to pay to see the show on its initial broadcast, said option is often cumbersome and way too expensive. Many don't have that option, and certainly aren't going to go for a full premium cable subscription to access a single show. People need a convenient, reasonably priced option. A well-considered online offering would vastly increase legal availability, and thus have a highly visible effect on piracy - hopefully giving yet another piece of ammunition against those who believe such lies as "pirates just want it for free". Doubly so if this becomes an international offering in some way, though that's probably asking too much at this point.

    "Some are saying it may actually be in coordination with another player (like Amazon or Hulu)."

    That's logical, given that there's an existing agreement with Amazon to stream some content, and they'd be sensible to at least partner with an experienced provider rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with their own systems. If they're sensible, they'd actually look at ways of offering their content as a premium add-on to multiple services rather than tying themselves to one provider, but that's probably hoping for too much in today's corporate environment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 16 Oct 2014 @ 5:53am

    The Future, Streaming, Cord Cutters -- Just A Reminder

    Just a reminder about the future . . .

    Disney Chooses Netflix As Its Exclusive Distributor Beginning In 2016

    From TechDirt's Christmas past. (Wed, Dec 5th 2012 2:51pm)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 16 Oct 2014 @ 6:54am

    Cord Cutting...

    AC Nielsen (or someone claiming to be them) called me this week, wanted to know about my TV...I told them (truthfully) that I wasn't watching any (or hardly any--I see sports and occasional music video when I eat out in restaurants, but not otherwise). My 30 inch flat TV screen has been dark all month, and has only ever had DVDs output on it.

    Hopefully, with the strong reactions against the Comcast merger, the handwriting is on the wall...consumers are willing to incur costs to get away from the Cable monopolies, and HBO needs to innovate not to be dragged down too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 16 Oct 2014 @ 7:52am

      Re: Cord Cutting...

      "I told them (truthfully) that I wasn't watching any"

      Heh, you were a lot more forthcoming than I would have been. I would have used my standard response: "I'm not interested, and please remove me from your list."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joe Biegelsen, 16 Oct 2014 @ 10:38am

    Net Neutrality

    Seems this could get caught out if net neutrality is not preserved. Many people get their internet via cable. The cable companies could kill the new HBO service unless people also sign up for the HBO tier on their internet connection - in addition to whatever HBO charges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 16 Oct 2014 @ 2:38pm

      Re: Net Neutrality

      Yes. The cable companies could make sure that the internet connection they provide will not work (well) with HBO streaming.

      I would just love to see them try. Or even actually do it. It would be a move worthy or Prenda. Or Righthaven.

      Maybe Comcast should try blocking both HBO and Netflix. Redirect you to a protest page to support your local cable company.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 16 Oct 2014 @ 3:11pm

    HBO is already on Amazon Prime

    HBO is already on Amazon Prime and showing a lot of it's back catalog. Okay, we won't get the very latest episode of Game of Thrones, but Amazon Prime does have the first few seasons of it, as well as the full seasons of Rome, the Sopranos, Deadwood, and a lot more.

    I would think the best idea would be to stick with Amazon since they have the infrastructure already in place, but that might mean giving them a cut of the income.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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