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Entertainment Thursday, June 7th 2012 at 8:35 am

HBO Responds to Your #takemymoneyHBO Pleas for Standalone HBO GO

Yesterday, the site Take My Money HBO offered HBO fans to communicate via Twitter what they would be willing to pay for a standalone HBO GO streaming account. It seems that in the midst of all the #takemymoneyHBO, the cable channel responded in kind. We all called out for a legal way to stream HBO, and HBO’s Twitter account whispered, “No.”

In their Tweet, HBO thanks fans for “the love” they showed by pummeling their account with dollar amounts. It then pointed followers to this post by TechCrunch writer Ryan Lawler saying that his interpretation is the correct one. This is where things get a bit depressing.

Lawler’s piece made two important points. The first is that when two samplings of the last 1,500 Tweets tagged #takemymoneyHBO were averaged, it showed that respondents were willing to pay about $12 a month for streaming HBO content. Interestingly, HBO’s per-customer cut of its 29 million subscribers only nets it about $7-$8 per customer.

Lawler’s second point — and this is the significant one — is that despite making nearly double per person, HBO will probably never explore standalone streaming as an option. His reasoning is that the premium channel is too closely tied to its network partners and wouldn’t want to shoulder the burden of running a Netflix-style system by itself. From TechCrunch:

Every time someone signs up for cable or satellite service, one of the inevitable perks is a free six- or 12-month subscription to HBO. [...] What would happen if HBO no longer had the pay TV industry’s marketing team propping it up all the time? The results would be disastrous, and there’s no way that HBO could make up in online volume the number of subscribers it would lose from cable.

In reality, HBO GO is less about wider viewership and more about adding value to existing customers. If anything, its re-enforcing HBO’s exclusivity: Not only do you get to watch all the latest programs wherever and whenever you are, you can also watch all the shows that used to be on HBO because you’re a special member of the awesome HBO club. Suddenly, those enormous cable bills seem a bit more palatable.

Though HBO seems like the golden goose, laying hit shows with production values and performances that rival some movies, it can only do so because of the system in which it exists. HBO needs cable providers, and will probably stay there as long as it makes economic sense to do so. However, to soothe our broken hearts, HBO did add a teasing “for now.” But I’m not going to get my hopes up.

(Media Decoder via Techmeme)

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