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How I Did the Impossible: HBO Without Cable TV

How I Did the Impossible HBO Without Cable TV Corporate Intelligence WSJ


The 1992 Cable Act requires that HBO, like other premium channels and any individually sold channel tiers, have to be made available to someone who only receives the most basic tier of TV channels.

Because pay TV providers usually package HBO with bundles of widely available cable channels, this wouldn’t be obvious to the average viewer. But if you call up and ask your provider for HBO plus a basic tier, they have to give it to you. 

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I can't believe I did not know this. The cable companies have done a great job obfuscating this fact.

1. Very cool.  I've always turned down the "discount" to add a tv package, but I'll certainly consider it for this.

2. My fear is that if this got popular, the cable providers would start charging a lot more for basic tv.

3. This unfortunately still doesn't provide what a lot of consumers want, which is no contract with a cable company at all, and just paying for HBOGO.

Hopefully Netflix is validating the model of "just paying for HBOGO".

And/or Netflix is able to buy HBO in the future and make it so.

HBO is looking the other way on people who share their HBO GO passwords with non-subscribers:

HBO winks "that's fine" to people who download Game of Thrones off the Internet:

I still think this is amazing:

If you call up and ask your provider for HBO plus a basic tier, they have to give it to you. That’s what I did on Friday. Not only did Verizon say yes but they signed me up at a special HBO promotional rate of $10 a month for 12 months, a 50% discount available currently.

Similar deals are available elsewhere. Comcast Corp has lately been marketing an offer it calls Internet plus: basic TV channels plus HBO plus 25 mbps of Internet. It’s a promotional offer aimed at new customers, people primarily interested in the Internet who also want HBO – people in my situation.

There are a couple of differences between Comcast’s offer and what I arranged on my own. Most importantly, Comcast requires subscribers to its package to have a TV set top box so they can see the TV channels. For one thing, that gives those consumers access not only to those channels, but Comcast’s extensive array of video on demand content, which makes a future upgrade much more feasible.

But I don’t have a set-top box. The FiOS representative told me that I wouldn’t be able to receive HBO on the TV without a $6.99 adapter but she didn’t force the issue when I said I only wanted to watch HBO via HBO Go, the mobile application HBO offers to its subscribers (and which come with my Apple TV device). So there’s no chance I’ll be tempted to upgrade my video package to something more substantive.

All that matters is that the HBO Go application on my screen now works.

Most people still don't know this option exists.

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