So, HBO has decided that it will offer a standalone streaming service. Currently, those who wish to stream HBO legally must purchase a cable package, then subscribe to HBO, then sign into the service and watch it on a compatible device (laptop, XBox, etc.). This changes that: Out goes the requirement to get a cable package. All one needs is a broadband internet connection—the same broadband Internet connection one uses to stream Netflix and Amazon and Hulu Plus and the rest. This is why “cord cutters” (that is, those who have jettisoned cable or satellite service already) and would-be cord cutters are rejoicing.
Time will tell if this opens up the floodgates and causes the rest of the cable networks to offer similar deals or prompts cable companies to offer unbundling (i.e., allowing consumers to pick and choose which cable channels they would like to pay for, a la carte). I imagine HBO’s direct competitors, such as Showtime, will offer similar services. What about FX and AMC? Could they do the same soon? Given that live sports are virtually the only thing cord cutters say they miss—and one of the major reasons would-be cord cutters don’t get rid of cable altogether—I can’t imagine that Comcast and the rest would allow ESPN or the Turner networks to do what HBO has just done. Live sports programming is just too valuable.*Read More