HBO is giving the people what they wanted, but it’s going to cost a lot more than expected.
On Monday, the network announced HBO Now, a new standalone subscription service that costs $US15 per month. It works exactly like HBO GO, which is free if you subscribe to HBO through most satellite and cable providers. The service will be exclusive to the Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad at first.
This is what I’ve been dreaming of. I cut the cord from cable almost three years ago. I have an HD antenna so I can get network TV like NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox for free. I have an Apple TV for streaming Netflix, Hulu, and shows I buy through iTunes. And I use my parents’ login to watch Game of Thrones, True Detective, and the occasional movie on HBO GO.
I always told myself that if and when HBO decided to bypass cable companies and let me buy HBO GO as a standalone product like Netflix, I’d jump on the opportunity.
Now I’m backing out.
I think $US15 is too expensive for HBO Now. Yes, HBO has great shows. Yes, HBO has great movies. Yes, HBO has great specials. But I don’t watch enough of all that to justify spending $US15 per month, or almost twice the cost of Netflix. The only must-watch shows on HBO (for me) are Game of Thrones and True Detective.
I suspect that’s the case for a lot of other people too. I’d gladly pay to own the entire seasons of those shows if HBO made them available through iTunes or Amazon, but it doesn’t. (That’s how I watch Mad Men, by the way. I buy the entire season on iTunes for about $US40 and watch each episode the day after it airs. I’m still saving money in the long run by not having cable.)
In the meantime, I’m going to continue using HBO GO for free until the network starts cracking down on freeloaders like me. HBO Now is a step in the right direction for people like me dying to free themselves from cable and all the unwanted programming there, but it’s overpriced for what you get.