Fans of HBO’s top-notch programming have been lobbying the channel to create a standalone app for streaming HBO Go material separate from a full cable subscription, but the network said it is unlikely to oblige. HBO Go is the network’s app for streaming shows online and on mobile devices, but it is only available for customers who are paying for regular cable and the premium channel.
The viewers took to a viral campaign on the website Take My Money HBO, where people shared how much they would happily pay for the streaming service. Many said they either pirate the shows or watch them on stolen cable because they do not want to pay for an entire cable account. HBO thanked fans for the love via Twitter, but also made clear that the chances of such a streaming service happening are very low.
HBO linked to a report by TechCrunch discussing how much viewers would be willing to pay for the standalone streaming. Even though TechCrunch found that fans would gladly pay an average of $12 per month, HBO said it would still lose large sums with the streaming-only setup. Tecca noted that it would require extensive new infrastructure for the company to manage and host the additional streaming accounts.
Also, keep in mind that HBO is not an independent entity. It’s owned by Time Warner, a major cable company. Fans of the HBO programming account for a large number of cable customers for Time Warner, and it could see a hit in profits if HBO offers standalone streaming. The network hasn’t explicitly stated whether its parent company is blocking the potential for non-cable subscriptions, but it’s hard to believe that hasn’t played some part in the decision to stay cable-centric.
It’s a worrisome response from HBO. With so many people wanting to pay for their favorite shows, which should be an ideal situation, it seems like the network is simply going to accept their piracy and turn a blind eye. It’s understandable that HBO and Time Warner are concerned about protecting their finances, but the hesitance toward diving into a streaming-only service seems more like fear of change. The continuing success of Netflix, Hulu, and other platforms shows that a business model based on streaming does work. It may take time, but eventually, HBO and Time Warner will almost certainly join the streaming bandwagon.