HBO Doesn’t Get It, (Still) Forces Cable TV On Users For Streaming


I really, really want to pay for HBO’s content. But I do not want cable TV. Or any ‘dumb pipe.’ I’ve written about this time and time again and having never paid for cable TV since moving out of my parent’s house in early 2000s I’m not being forced back into a world of subsidizing content I don’t want or can’t timeshift.

So I was excited to see today’s news, that, as multiple media outlets reported, HBO is going “cable free.” Except they aren’t. And no media outlet got this story right. As reported by QZ in a story titled: “HBO is finally ready to break out of the cable TV bundle” (emphasis mine):

The global ruler in premium pay-TV will soon offer its services in the US without requiring a traditional cable TV packageHBO is set to expand its $49-per-month internet bundle—available now as a trial through Comcast—and offer it through other cable and broadband providers, Bloomberg reportsThe package will include cable TV and online access to HBO, as well as a limited basic cable channel lineup.

Note, you still have to buy cable TV as part of a bundle. So they aren’t unbundling anything making this not only a misleading story, but frustrating for someone interested in paying for HBO who does not wish to pay for cable TV, only Internet. Even Bloomberg got this story wrong, saying HBO is pushing ‘web expansion’ in the headline, and when you drill in you see they are still forcing you to have cable TV.

Smart people no longer want TV out of a dumb pipe as we’ve shared time and time again. And it’s not for a lack of enjoying content, digitally savvy people and those who value their limited time on the planet now timeshift. Viewing content on someone else’s timetable is a dated, archaic notion and seeks to hold viewers hostage. This was a power play, but when the tech exists to put power in the hands of users it is extremely user-hostile and should not be lauded by any media outlets as it’s the same, business as usual practice for dinosaur media who force analog practices into digital platforms. We’ve seen how this story ends.

Until the cable providers stop forcing us to pay for even basic cable (which makes no sense if we just want Internet service) nothing is unbundled and there’s nothing worth paying for. HBO can’t say they have unbundled in a genuine fashion or even hope to compete with Netflix, Amazon Instant, etc. among a certain segment of users until we can pay for the content or service we want through streaming and not subsidize garbage from awful providers.

No one’s content is so important anymore it should subsidize a dumb pipe filled with non-contextual, spammy, dinosaur ads. There are too many other options for things to watch, and too much else to do in life.

TL;DR: Dear HBO & cable providers: screw your shady ‘bundles’ no one wants, just give us Internet and let us pay for the additional content / streams we wish.

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