Cord-cutters who love HBO have so far had few options to purchase the service outside of a large package of channels with a cable company. While HBO’s new offering may please some cord-cutters, it still requires a small package of “local channels.”
The HBO-plus-Internet plan, offered by the cable channel and Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA), will temporarily cost $40, a promotional price that will increase over time. The two offered the bundle on a trial basis and are reportedly broadening its scope.
While still a far cry from a payment system free of any cable bundling, a la Netflix, the shift shows that while HBO enjoys the benefits of partnerships with cable companies, the home of “Game of Thrones” also thinks it could do well as a standalone service.
There are roughly 100 million cable subscribers in the U.S., compared to roughly 10 million so-called cord-cutters, who pay for Internet but not television or landline telephone service. While that number is expected to grow over time, HBO is still reliant on cable customers.
Earlier this month, Geoffrey A. Fowler at the Wall Street Journal compiled a list of the “secret menu” terms allowing consumers to get a minimal cable package, HBO and Internet service from the largest cable providers. For Comcast, customers need to request the “Internet Plus” service, with HBO, HBO Go and around 10 other cable channels.
Time Warner Cable offers “Starter TV + HBO” along with a plan for Internet, whereas Verizon’s FiOS offers a “50/25 Mbps + Local News and Sports + HBO.” AT&T U-Verse offers “HBO Internet Plus.”