$14.99 a month for HBO?

Amazon sent me a promo email offering to ‘upgrade’ my Prime membership with HBO GO for an additional $14.99/mo. I looked at HBO’s site and HBO itself charges the same $14.99/mo for Go.

Two things struck me:

  • I might get a deal by subscribing as a Prime member. Turns out that isn’t the case.
  • $15/mo is hard to swallow for one channel. HBO has always been a premium channel but in a world of $10/mo Netflix, $8/mo Hulu, and $8/mo Prime Video it’s really hard to swallow. Each one of these services provides access to a vast amount of content and quite a bit of exclusive content.

Exclusive content has always been the argument for HBO. HBO has always been a few great exclusive shows and ad nasuem repeats of crappy movies. Netflix arguably has some of the most popular exclusive titles. For my part, I haven’t cared about HBO since the Sopranos ended.  The exclusive series might be great but I haven’t been exposed to them because it’s behind a paywall. My guess would be the only thing that was keeping HBO afloat are the old school people who subscribe via their cable company and don’t realize how much they pay for it.

People have realized how ridiculously expensive cable television for a while now. They are slashing the bill by choosing a smaller package or cutting the cord all together. Enter HBO Go, a plan to cut the cable companies out of the mix and go right to the customer. Great idea. An old school company adopting a new business model is always interesting to watch. However, charging 50% more than the highest priced competitor (Netflix) shows just how out of touch they really are. Netflix has a much larger catalog of content.

My guess is HBO nets less than $10/mo per customer when selling through the cable company. Cable company subscribers get access to HBO Go too. The biggest factor in the $15/mo price tag is not cheesing off their old school business partners by undercutting them. That hurts HBO Go’s ability to bring in new customers – the savvy ones that won’t pay $15/mo for one channel.

5 comments

  1. What are your thoughts about Amazon Video? At least here in Germany, Amazon Video has a HUGE video library. There’s rarely something I don’t find there. I have Netflix too but I’m not sure whether the German Netflix is different from the US Netflix. I often have a hard time finding anything on Netflix. But I like it that it has many anime series. 😀 (also Black Mirror which is simply awesome) — Watchever is closing up show at the end of this year, and Maxdome is still going strong (not sure if Maxdome is available outside of Germany). Maxdome has a slightly different set of content than Amazon, that’s why I still keep it.

    1. Hi Monster!

      Amazon Video is okay. I have really enjoyed Bosch which is an exclusive title based on Michael Connolly books. Amazon is my 3rd most watched service. Hulu being the first, followed by Netflix, and then Amazon. In the states Amazon has some decent original content and quite a large catalog of movies available elsewhere. My biggest issue with Amazon is when Prime viewing gets taken away you have to pay per episode but there is no warning of when Prime viewing expires for a particular title. Mom and I were enjoying watching an old police drama called NYPD Blue. The whole show is maybe 10 seasons. We took break from watching for a week or two. When we went to watch again and it was pay per episode. That just left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not terribly bothersome I mostly view Amazon Video as a bonus – I’m a Prime customer mostly because of the two day shipping.

      I haven’t heard of Maxdome must be a DE thing. 🙂 All in all if I had to pick one streaming service it would be Netflix they have the best (IMHO) catalog of original content and large catalog of older stuff.

  2. I’m such a frequent Amazon customer, I’ll probably get an award someday! 😀 — Amazon Prime has some serious perks (for Video, Music, Pantry, shipping). Here it’s about 50 EUR per year. I don’t really mind if they switch content from Prime to Non-Prime. If I like something enough I’m prepared to buy it, but for content that I don’t like as much, it does make me stop viewing occasionally — but I know they switch it around again occasionally. I’m glad they fixed most of the bugs in the PS3 client, that used to be a real problem! 😉

    I really like it that Amazon Video and Audible run in Chrome / Chromium on any platform. 🙂

    For me, the order of preference is (highest rank first); Amazon, Netflix, Maxdome, Watchever. 🙂

    My favorite TV series on Amazon Video are Game of Thrones and Vikings, for instance, 🙂

    I don’t have a particular favorite movie. Some that I really liked: “Lucy” (Amazon), and “her” and “Man of Steel” (on Maxdome; also availabe on Amazon). 🙂

    1. I’m also an Amazon addict. It’s so easy to place and order and have it here in two days. For most things Amazon has the best or near the best price especially when you add in how much shipping and handling would cost from some place else.

      I like Prime Reading. I haven’t subscribed to Kindle Unlimited for an extra ~$10/mo mostly because I have a stack of real books and a good 50 Kindle Books I’ve bought and haven’t read yet. 😀 Stateside we get to pick one book per month from a list of new titles to read for free. I think it’s called Kindle First Look. Most of the times the list is decent but sometimes I don’t even bother picking one. Recently they added the ability to read a couple of popular magazines per month. Plus there is the lending library and my regular library in town has the ability to borrow books via the Kindle somehow.

      For a while I liked Prime Music they debuted a Music Unlimited add on stateside for $8/mo. I was considering subscribing but Amazon doesn’t work with Chromecast. No surprise they want you to buy a Fire Stick. I have a Fire stick but really like ability of Google Music to be cast from my phone or tablet without having the TV on. I invested into 2 Chromecast Audio’s earlier this year. Aside from playing local music over the network being a headache they’re pretty awesome.

      Anti-competiveness lock in like that just irks me. Google Music works across platforms without issue – why cannot Amazon do the same?

      1. lol, you have the same reason for not subscribing to Kindle Unlimited as me: I have umpteen Kindle books that I’ve bought that I haven’t yet read. Also, I have several unused freebies on Audible (where you get one free audio book per month). At least, I’ve begun listening to audio books again (with my iPad or on Linux using the Chromium browser).

        I use Prime Music mainly to preview music that I intend to buy anyway. I don’t like streaming from the browser much b/c of the lower audio quality.

        I agree vendor-lock-in is often a problem. Prime Music does work on several platforms (Chrome / Chromium browsers, consoles and iOS / Android phones and tablets) — you cannot redirect the stream AFAIK, but you can at least stream from a supported device.

        I’m pretty happy with all the possibilities we have nowadays. 🙂 Just a few decades ago, this all used to be in the realm of science fiction and people would have laughed at you had you said it would be possible some day. 😉

        But I do hope there will be more progress down the line … a teleporter would be nice and/or space travel. 😉

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