Business - Written by Brendan Peat on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 11:06 - 4 Comments
HBO’s ‘free’ downloading service headed in the right direction
The other week I wrote about the lack of choice TV viewers are provided with and how it factors into their rationale for pirating shows. “Time shifting and TiVo lead net generation members to find little wrong with downloading their favorite TV show. Personally I love watching The Office, but the problem is that I am very rarely home at 9pm on Thursday night. I already pay for cable and have access to the show, I just prefer to watch the show at a time that is more convenient to me (U.S. viewers can watch it free online).”
HBO announced earlier this week that the company is now going to offer it’s programming ‘free’ online. The following excerpt from BusinessWeek outlines the new service “HBO describes HBO on Broadband as free. But to get the service, a cable subscriber will need to have already paid not only the $12 or so a month to get the pay channel, but also the $30 or $40 a month to get a cable operator’s broadband service.” Of course the service has some big conditions, but it’s refreshing to see that some content providers appear to be getting it, users want choice. To get access to the ‘free’ HBO on Broadband service you have to be an HBO customer. You know what, this makes sense. HBO has great programming and I believe that many users would be more willing to pay for the channel if they are able to have control over how the consume media (traditional TV, streaming, download, time shifting, etc…).
True HBO has inserted the sleazy stipulation that users must also subscribe to their broadband service to access the new technology, but at least they are trying. For the first movers in this case, especially a well established content provider such as HBO ‘strong armed bundling tactics’ may actually garner them market share while at the same time handicapping others who follow from copying their model (what are the odds a similar Showcase bundle would work now?). The model is far from perfect but at this point getting some innovation out of the archaic entertainment industry is better than nothing.
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