Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I saw on The Verge that HBO is finally going to make its excellent HBO Go service available “over the top” (sometime in 2015)

This is something I’ve wanted for a long time and have written about a bunch here.

It isn’t that I don’t have a cable subscription. I have many.

It is that I want a direct subscription relationship with HBO Go. I don’t want one subscription to be dependent on another.

That is also why I don’t like subscribing to services on my phone via carrier billing.

When its time to end a relationship with a carrier or a cable company, I don’t want to have to think about what other relationships I might be ending.

Direct relationships are best and I’m thrilled to become a direct subscriber to HBO Go.

Well done HBO.


Comments (Archived):

  1. leeschneider

    If only more products followed suit! ESPN would be my next request.

  2. Barry Nolan

    Posit. If the NFL to go OTT, it will be the end of TV distribution as we know it.

    1. William Mougayar

      They have already a package for that, but not exclusively.

      1. Barry Nolan

        Yes. Already it’s a printing press and they yet to really explore the opportunities.

        1. JamesHRH

          Ad buyers not mentally ready.

          1. Barry Nolan

            They may not be the buyer.

      2. falicon (streaming only service, but currently limited to a few key locations [luckily NYC is one] and universities).I had been waiting almost 20 years to ditch DTV…this *finally* gave me that freedom…we still ended up getting cable (because of channels my wife and kids still want — and for HBO go access)…but this new HBO situation will be one more step towards *my* FREEDOM and CONTROL 🙂

        1. William Mougayar

          They are about to expand that, from my inside sources.

  3. John Revay

    So this come across the feeds yesterday, I thought about many of the AVC posts and comments. I am happy too that content providers continue to cut out the middle man.

  4. Peter Van Dijck

    I just hope they make it available internationally. I am in Colombia and I can’t see Amazon’s original series (despite being a Prime subscriber) because they’re blocked. They’re making me torrent things.

  5. William Mougayar

    This could be a turning point for the continuing Cord cutting + Streaming content trend. This puts into question the value & function of the TV itself. All you really want is a large monitor that’s connected to the Internet directly & to a Chromecast, Airplay, etc. And you just stream programs eg Netflix, HBO, NFL, Hulu, etc or via a smartphone App like Videostream (coming-up, I’m an investor).Goodbye TV, Hello TV.

    1. awaldstein

      That is all it is today William.I’m all in for unbundling but the device itself is simply pixels. Not that smart and no smarter or dumber tomorrow.

      1. William Mougayar

        Well, the TV is getting pipped into the Internet more decisively, and actually, I prefer the word “Connected TV”. The “smart” part is a marketing moniker that these “smartTVs” haven’t totally earned yet, but regardless, we are getting more creative about streaming stuff over the air and into a big glass on the wall, and it will be done in a variety of ways, including via your smartphone which can easily become the smartest content flipper you’ll ever own.

        1. awaldstein

          Connected is better than smart.And actually what we are really talking about open–no?

          1. William Mougayar

            yes, the openness comes from the Internet! TV/Monitor is just a display device.I wished we could buy 50 inch displays for a couple of hundred bucks, then we’re talking. Currently, a 42 inch smartTV is about the same price as a monitor that size, roughly. That doesn’t make sense to me.

          2. awaldstein

            Intersection of market pricing and massive retooling costs in the fabs.A mess.

          3. Driftaway Coffee

            how about “dumb glass” 🙂

          4. William Mougayar

            “Dumb glass” + “smart pipes” . Yes. The TV isn’t going get smarter than our smartphones, so you might as well use the smartphones first 🙂

    2. bsoist

      Exactly.I was listening to en episode of Back to Work from a week or so ago and one of them said something like “you need Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones” and that’s all you need. I don’t watch both of those shows, but the point is spot on. HBO is almost the only reason we have TV service. We watch the HBO stuff on the Apple TV anyway.I called Verizon the other night to try and adjust my package so I could 1) keep HBO, 2) save money. Of course, this led to several issues ( including canceling of the RedZone channel – which I’d already paid for – and my wife was in the middle of watching! ) and some wrong information, and several transfers, etc. etc. Two days and three phone calls later … I am paying $5 per month *more* but that will save me $10 a year AND I have an additional $70 charge on my bill this month and they can’t take it off until it shows so they’re calling me back next month to fix it.I don’t mean to just dump on Verizon, but I was *very* excited to see this news yesterday – because I think we’re headed to a better solution.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Live TV is good for sports and hits like HBO’s Game of Thrones or Fox’s 24: the sort of stuff people watch and tweet about live. To avoid spoilers, and to participate in the conversations, fans want to watch that stuff (plus the pop culture equivalent of sports, award shows) live.

        1. bsoist

          HBOGo lets you watch right away – as soon as the show starts.and I’ve always though we could solve the live events on social media problem

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Interesting. Fox makes you wait a day, IIRC.

          2. bsoist

            we learned that when my son – who doesn’t live with us but knows my username and password 🙂 – tried to watch the 24 finale in real time. He was so used to HBO that he assumed he would be allowed to watch in real time.

    3. Richard

      What is it called if broadcast is consumed online?

  6. pointsnfigures

    Yup. A la Carte TV. Can’t wait. Eventually sports will be game by game. Why pay for all 162 baseball games? Pick the ones you want to watch. For the Knicks, just watch the playoffs. Oh.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Sports will be the last hold-out. No one (much) enjoys time-shifted sports. It’s a gotta have it on gameday at gametime kinda thing.

      1. pointsnfigures

        agree that it’s much better to watch in real time-but why do I want to buy a full slate of games?

        1. JimHirshfield

          No one wants to watch ALL the TEAMS ALL the TIME.It’s bullshit marketing bundling to squeeze consumers’ wallets.

          1. LE

            No one wants to watch ALL the TEAMS ALL the TIME.It’s bullshit marketing bundling to squeeze consumers’ wallets.Flag down on that comment. No such thing as “squeeze” or “soak ya” etc. No such thing in this context of “bullshit” marketing.Don’t hate the player and don’t hate the game. Have empathy. Have you ever priced things and run a business? If you do you will see what happens.Let me review the concept here:Comedy club has 5 comics. 3 suck and 2 are great (including Jim Hirshfield).People aren’t given the option to just come in and see those 2. They need to sit through the warm up acts and need to throw things at the other failures.By allowing people to just see the two good and funny acts the entire economic model and balance goes out the window. [1] They wouldn’t be able to employ the good acts if they didn’t have some revenue coming in for the sucky acts. They’d have to charge so much that nobody would pay that price just to see one or two comedians. And they wouldn’t sell alcohol during those acts as well. Or food. Spread over 5 comedians price is doable and the model works. Even if you find out after the fact that you didn’t really like the first three.It’s like an ecosystem. Different things have different purposes even if there is “evil”.[1] Similar concept. Why convenience stores sell cigarettes. Profit allows them to charge less for the hoagie. Get rid of the smokes, raise the price of the hoagie and people buy less hoagies as a result. All the sudden store goes out of business.

          2. IS

            This isn’t really about empathy at all. It’s about an industry unwilling to try new models, despite overwhelming evidence that their time-tested model is dying. An industry at odds with the preferences and increasingly common media behaviors of their customers. The pay TV exec will sell you the line that “without bundling, all those wonderful niche networks wouldn’t be able to exist.” But who watches ESPN 27? The Crocheting with Kittens network? Nobody.If viewers had the option to allocate their subscription dollars, a lot of those networks would disappear (and some might do better financially, if they captured all the subscription revenue, rather than the pittance per sub from their niche audiences that bundlers give them). The problem with industry execs is that they believe (or at least won’t state the contrary in public fora) that networks have an inherent right to exist, and that their existence is a gift to subscribers. And that belief, in my opinion, creates stasis where business evolution is concerned. This is an industry where intermediation distorts the market. Lots of content gets funded that wouldn’t otherwise see light of day, and customers are supposed to be thankful for that?What customers perceive to be valuable is substantially at odds with the value story that pay TV companies are trying to sell them. And that’s clearly reflected in subscription trends. It doesn’t do much good to rationalize a failing model because “that’s how the economics used to work.”

          3. JLM

            .Bleacher Report v ESPNBest and most highly viewed teams v the mush pile.I hear Shippensburg State is kicking butt this year.JLM.

          4. JimHirshfield

            Ship…Founded: 1871Address: 1871 Old Main Dr, Shippensburg, PA 17257Coincidence? I think not.

      2. JLM

        .College sports is going to be very interesting. Already some schools like Texas have their own sports channels. The Longhorn network is pretty cool, well, if you like Longhorns that is.I love the interviews.JLM.

    2. Ricky Bobby

      This won’t work for actual fans.

      1. ShanaC

        what makes an actual fan versus a non actual fan?

  7. JamesHRH

    Family sharing on iTunes another example of good things coming to those who wait.

  8. JimHirshfield

    Again, it’s not me it’s you?

  9. Steven Kuyan

    As long as they find a sustainable way to monetize. For HBO that shouldn’t be a problem, its the followers I’m worried about. Not looking forward to more product placement or buzzfeed-like news.

  10. JimHirshfield

    Good on HBO to realize this is the way forward. There are threats from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Google, etc. And if they don’t do this, more users will borrow HBO Go passwords or torrent the shows.#learninglessons

  11. Tom Labus

    I would imagine sports is heading here.

    1. JimHirshfield

      I say not soooooo fast.

      1. pointsnfigures

        will be interesting to see. there are some big negotiations coming up. Specifically, the Chicago Cubs. Let’s see if they get creative.

    2. ErikSchwartz

      Live video streaming at scale is a very different set of technical problems than VOD. Currently these technical issues make the business proposition in live sports very different.The team I just joined is working on P2P ways to solve those problems.

      1. Tom Labus

        good luck on your venture

  12. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Early bird gets the worm …. good for HBO.

    1. William Mougayar

      But the second mouse gets the cheese.There’s lots to go around for many players that get it.

      1. JimHirshfield

        First cat gets the mouse that didn’t get the cheese.

        1. William Mougayar

          Where does this leave the cat that wants the swallow the fish?

          1. JimHirshfield

            Still staring at the glass fishbowl, trying to figure out how to unbundle the fish from the bowl.

        2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          No the cat gets the one with extra-cheese on it.

      2. jason wright

        and become a cannibal

      3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        Is second mouse the one who waits? 🙂

  13. jason wright

    i don’t know the US television landscape or HBO.Is this part of the general trend of unbundling?

    1. Guest

      Please try that again. I think you’re missing a word or two.

    2. pointsnfigures

      yes. opens up new opportunities. I think Seth Godin was hinting at that today on his blog.

  14. Jon Michael Miles

    Good things comes to consumers who vote with their dollars. HBO wouldn’t have done this if Netflix hadn’t kicked its ass. They are learning the lesson Blockbuster couldn’t. That said, as someone who actually works in television and cable, this has grand implications for individual show brands.

  15. Salt Shaker

    Not sure TW makes this move w/ HBO if they hadn’t spun off Time Warner Cable, one of a few companies that will be directly impacted by this move financially. With 30 million paid HBO cable/sat subs in the U.S., this is precedent setting for MSO’s, although not as big as if ESPN decided to do the same, for example. (ESPN’s value to MSO’s can be seen in its large affiliate comp, which is now in excess of $6 per sub per month.) Of course, the MSO’s can potentially benefit by an increase in broadband demand created by a new HBO streaming service.Most interesting, will be how HBO decides to price/package their new streaming service. I think they’ll price above Netflix, perhaps offer a less robust programming line up, and maybe even require an annual subscription package to guard against monthly “churn,” which has always been a huge prob for HBO and other premium TV services.I’m sure HBO modeled this out a zillion different ways, including price elasticity testing, and ultimately determined there is far more upside than risk, though if I worked for an MSO I’d feel a bit uncertain about my future.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Very astute observations. +1

    2. LE

      I’m sure HBO modeled this out a zillion different waysWhile the move is not a hail mary by any means it’s clear that HBO wouldn’t move anywhere near this direction if they didn’t see a trend and know where things were heading and that they had to do this. Or else.This is kind of like the husband or wife who get’s their act together when the writing is on the wall (not before) because the other spouse had made it clear such as “clean up your act or I’m filing for divorce!”.

      1. Salt Shaker

        I honestly think HBO was seriously encumbered when TWC was part of the nest. HBO likely would have explored this move sooner; Netflix was gaining too much traction, likely somewhat at their expense.

    3. Craig

      Hopefully this move by HBO is the just the beginning. If ESPN would do the same, there would be no going back and the cable/satellite model would likely change permanently. I would think there would be millions who would be willing to pay ESPN $10-20 per month for direct contact and drop the rest of their $80+ cable/satellite package.

    1. Richard

      What’s are the unite of the Y axis?

        1. LE

          My first thought was “who provided that chart and why should I believe the info on it?”.Turns out that it’s “according to this data from ISI Group”Marketing fail. The name and the web address should be prominent on the chart and not just an unreadable by line.If the chart was drawn by BI not ISI the question is why isn’t ISI providing the graphics if they are doing research like this.

    2. ShanaC

      slow but steady downhill. (I see a Jets fan)

      1. JimHirshfield

        I’d like to see 2014 data.

    3. JLM

      .Great graph. One of the things that is difficult to capture is the bundling of services and thus the delivery of entertainment from cable companies who are delivering cable, phone and internet.Whatever I jettison from cable, I often pick up on internet. I have screaming fast 1Gig service and it changes your view of things as well as making coffee in the morning.I also gets tons of free video from the cable company not services that use cable.This internet stuff is going to be big.JLM.

        1. JLM

          .Google Fiber was first by a year and then Grande showed up at my door in February and I had 1Gig by nightfall.Now, ATT, Google and Grande are all in the game. Still only Grande actually has it live.Google’s strategy is odd. South and southeast ATX are not the most affluent parts of Austin where folks are willing to pay for premium service. Weird strategic move.JLM.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Where are the startups located? Is Google catering to the consumers or the startups (first)?

          2. JLM

            .Startups are notoriously unreliable financially. The number of connections per square foot of dirt is way higher in residential areas. Residential customers are long term customers.Most startups are downtown or northwest or east.JLM.

          3. Dan Epstein

            Recent article about the cost of tv programming limiting Google’s ability to roll our Fiber.From Medin, the Fiber head:Video “is the single biggest impediment” to Google Fiber’s deployment, Medin told an audience at the COMPTEL telecom conference in Dallas on Monday. “It is the single biggest piece of our cost structure.”http://www.washingtonpost.c…

    4. george

      Great insights; there’s new meaning to All-Access!I think Google’s strategy is about convergence, and creating natural content fluency from one platform to another – it’s less to do with delivery and more to do with who will lead managing data communications.

  16. falicon

    Boom. Ditto.

  17. Barry Nolan

    Tipping Point?CBS just announced a new subscription Internet streaming service that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription.

  18. Ken Crowder

    Amen to that!

  19. JamesHRH

    On cutting the cord……Our AV & Security provider in Calgary suggests Telus (PhoneCo) for twisted pair non-degradable broadband (50 Mbps & always 50) and Shaw (CableCo) for TV, TelCo TV offerings just not complete.So, long term, in CGY at least, cutting the CableCo cord looks pretty doable.If 0 to 1 is a interesting innovation leap….maybe that is all you need for competitive options (when you are talking service providers).

  20. ErikSchwartz

    A few random thoughts here…Unbundling a premium subscription channel like HBO is a very different beast than unbundling an ad supported channel like ESPN that is mostly supported by affiliate fees.No one actually knows what the HBO OTT offering is, in terms of pricing or programming.The people who are really screwed are the niche programmers who are the throw in channels in bundles (things like Velocity Network and Outdoors Channel).The MSOs are not screwed. If they have to amortize the costs of their plant over one product rather than two you’ll just see your ISP costs go up. They are screwed when we have real last mile competition.Live video streaming as it is done now is very difficult to make profitable.Low latency live streaming with decent video quality is also tough. The ESPN world cup streams were minutes behind live.

    1. JimHirshfield

      If I’m the Outdoor Channel, why don’t I just go over the top now? Why isn’t that a good move?

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Because they can’t pay the CDN bills on the ad revenue they make.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Are they that much more than the cable carriage fees?PBS streams a ton of content…I can’t imagine they have cash to spare.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            They don’t pay for carriage. The MSO is forced to carry them because they are part of a bundle with a “must ” carry like ESPN.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Interesting. Thanks.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            Also, carriage fees are constant, CDN fees scale linearly.

        2. Richard

          any back of the envelope numbers on this?

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Ustream’s best rate looks like $0.05 per viewer hour.10K average viewers is $500/hour. $12K/day. $4.3M/year.Satellite transmission expenses are 1.5-2M/yearNow the issue is if you grow from 10K viewers to 100K you’re now paying $43M in CDN expenses to go OTT but to distribute via an MVPD you’re still only paying the $2M a year in Sat trans expenses.Broadcast O(1)OTT O(n)

          2. PhilipSugar

            This is a pure quality comment. Name the time when the massholes have left and I will make the ride from Boston to see you.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            Thanks. I’m in the Bay Area right now, but if you find yourself in the neighborhood let’s grab a drink.

    2. LE

      If they have to amortize the costs of their plant over one product rather than two you’ll just see your ISP costs go up.Agree what I said in my comments. No free lunch.

    3. Salt Shaker

      CBS Sports’ live stream of NCAA B-Ball Tourney is surprisingly quite fluid. Their video quality was lousy the 1st year or so but since vastly improved. Admittedly, the World Cup is far more of a challenge with higher international demand and distribution.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        I was watching the NFL sunday ticket stream last weekend. When the Carolina/Cincy game went into OT the stream quality tanked as more and more viewers wanted to see the OT.

  21. Brandon Burns

    Too bad a non-phablet sized Nexus 6 didn’t come to all those who waited. :-/

    1. JimHirshfield

      Do you have the Nexus 5? Is it not sufficient?

      1. Brandon Burns

        I had a Nexus 4 that I broke recently. I’ve been using an old iPhone, waiting for what I thought would be the Nexus 6 that I wanted to come out.I don’t think I want a non-stock Android phone. But I hate iOS. Now I don’t know what to do.

          1. Brandon Burns

            Too old!I also don’t love the camera, and that’s a top priority for me.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Hmm. Issues.

          3. JLM

            .Samsung Galaxy Mega or as I call it “the big slab of cheese”.The pics are world class.It can figure in favorably in a self defense strategy.JLM

          4. Brandon Burns

            I’ll check it out!

  22. LE

    It is that I want a direct subscription relationship with HBO Go. I don’t want one subscription to be dependent on another.This will be like bank fees or baggage fees.If they lose revenue in one area (cable companies) they will have to increase revenue in another area in order to make their numbers.Especially when the competition is light to none.I therefore expect that my cable bill will increase as a result of the people who don’t pay for HBO on their cable bill anymore. It’s just a shifting of dollars it won’t end up being a real savings for everyone just certain people.

  23. Kushdoctor

    Most people don’t just subscribe to cable for HBO. So the calc they made was simple: churn from cable versus new subs from cord-nevers? That’s incremental plus so there you go. I don’t think this is the end of the cable bundle by a long shot.

  24. Phil Chacko

    You can say good things come from “waiting,” but Netflix provided a strong nudge. =) (Disclosure: I work for NFLX.)

  25. Benjamin Gadbaw

    “Direct relationships are best” Always? A couple justifications for an intermediary are scale and honoring what a brand can actually deliver because of its capability. Comcast is an obvious case, but how do you know when a direct relationship is not best for the customer and company?

  26. John Revay

    CBS is set offer web only subscription – $6.00 / month…



    1. Minerva Gomez