Fans of HBO’s most watched shows like Girls, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire can now get HBO without having to pay for a premium cable subscription. Yep, you read that right: you no longer have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a cable TV package with hundreds of channels you probably don’t care about just to see your favorite shows.
Comcast, the largest cable operator in the country, has introduced a package called Internet Plus. The package offers basic TV channels plus HBO and 25/5 Mbps internet for about $50 a month. People who use the Internet Plus package will also have access to XFINITY Streampix, a streaming service for movies and TV shows that is similar to Netflix. This offer is basically for people primarily interested in the Internet, but who also want HBO, So, basically everyone in America.
This can be an appealing package for cord cutters everywhere, where viewers have been increasingly ditching their cable subscriptions for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
HBO content has been stubbornly tied to expensive cable TV for years, remaining largely under lock and key to cord cutters. Unless you can borrow someone’s HBO Go account or violate federal law and pirate your favorite HBO shows, the Comcast package is the best option for those with access to it.
So why have you not heard a lot about this package?
Well, HBO’s parent company, Time Warner, isn’t really playing up the new offering despite its appeal. HBO earns its profits by charging cable companies affiliate fees for distributing its content. Cable companies like Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon pay top dollar for HBO as it remains one of the reasons why many subscribers haven’t ditched their cable bundles.
HBO is likely earning more from cable subscriptions than it would as a standalone streaming product despite a high-profile internet campaign to get the channel to follow the path of Netflix. And Consumerist reports that the package doesn’t include many bellwether cable channels — chiefly ESPN — nor does it come with DVR. But if subscribers can get over those barriers to entry, they can put themselves a step closer to the a la carte future of which most of us can only dream.