I’m a cable subscriber. We’ve been paying for cable as long as I can remember; and, being a child born in the 70’s, I’ve lived most of my life with cable TV. As a youth, I was introduced to many a film through cable television, and my parents subscribed to HBO, a premium movie channel. Back then, there were only a few pay channels to choose from, and HBO was the big dog of the pack. Sure, Showtime had it’s following, and Cinemax and The Movie Channel were trying to carve out their niche, with late-night softcore adult movies, but HBO was what I knew and watched.
HBO has always had movies, but original programming is nothing new for the channel. HBO has something for everyone: comedies like Not Necessarily The News, 1st & 10, and The Kids in the Hall, children’s shows like Fraggle Rock, sports coverage of Wimbledon and boxing, and anthology series’ like The Hitchhiker and Tales From The Crypt.
Once I moved out, and started paying for my own cable, I dropped HBO. By then, there were VHS rentals and $1 movie theaters, and watching TV wasn’t a priority for me. Granted, HBO was still pumping out some remarkable original programming, but once DVDs hit the scene, you could rent or buy seasons of HBO original programming, and still avoid paying them that monthly premium cable subscription.
By the late 90s, technology changed, the Internet came to everyone’s home, and piracy started to become commonplace. Netflix appeared, and DVD rentals skyrocketed. There were other ways to get HBO content without paying the cable company more money, but that’s when HBO shifted into high gear, and some of their best original series’ launched. The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, The Wire — all of these shows were critically-acclaimed, and worth every bit of praise heaped upon them. They kept people on the hook by raising the bar.
Then, technology changed again, and in 2007, Netflix introduced streaming content. HBO was still living in the dark ages of DVD and cable subscriptions.
In 2010, HBO finally jumped into streaming, with HBO GO. It required an active HBO subscription to watch your favorite HBO programming, but you had nearly everything they’d ever released at your fingertips. Unlike Netflix, which is also subscription-based, HBO encouraged their subscribers to share their login for HBO GO with others. This was a huge change in attitude for the network, but it also helped them to stay competitive with Netflix, which by now was creating original programming of its own and being quite successful with this new endeavor. While I still had yet to take the plunge with HBO on my cable bill, I was a Netflix subscriber, and had been since it started. I didn’t see a problem with paying about $8 a month for streaming content, but I still wasn’t going to pay more to the cable company.
Just this month, HBO has changed the rules, launching HBO NOW, their own streaming subscription. No longer do you have to pay the cable company to watch HBO; you can now pay HBO $14.99 per month directly, and get everything they have to watch on your iOS device, Apple TV, or any computer with a high-speed Internet connection.
That’s a higher fee than that charged by Netflix, but the programming HBO offers — when you consider how much content they’ve created, and all the movies they have the rights to show — is well worth that $15. HBO is currently offering a free month to try out the service (order.hbonow.com), and you can get the app on your iOS device to sign up, too.
I used my Apple TV to launch my trial, and am enjoying the latest Game of Thrones episode as I write.
I’ve missed HBO. I’m a spendthrift on many fronts, and paying more for cable has always been an issue for me. With HBO NOW, I can revisit an old friend for a month, and see if I want to stick around for more.
Maybe you should visit, too?