October 27, 2013
Comcast To Offer HBO As Part Of Low-Cost Cable/Internet Package
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe OnlineReuters reporter Liana B. Baker, the Philadelphia-based TV and online services provider is advertising a trimmed-down cable package that will include HBO, its HBO Go online service, broadband Internet service, and a handful of other networks for an limited-time introductory rate of approximately $50 per month.
“The new offer, which is publicized on Comcast's website, is a chance for Time Warner-owned HBO to reach subscribers who felt they could not afford the channel before,” Baker said. “Until now, HBO was generally marketed to customers who buy the priciest TV packages through their cable company.”
The so-called “Internet Plus” offer ends on January 31, 2014 and allows new customers to subscribe to 10 or more non-sports-related basic cable channels, including local stations and government channels. The base price for the first 12 months of service is between $40 and $50 per month, depending upon the customer’s location, and after that time Comcast told Reuters that the price will increase to $69.95 per month.
In addition to HBO access, Bryan Bishop of The Verge reports that the package features a 25 Mbps Internet connection, Comcast’s own “Streampix” streaming video service and a possible lineup of up to 45 channels. He was also able to confirm that the service was currently available in some parts of California for $39.99 per month.
“The package is essentially what many cord cutters, and Game of Thrones fans, have been asking for: a way to legally watch their favorite shows online over a speedy internet connection, without paying for expensive, full-scale TV packages that they never watch,” Bishop said.
“Given the popularity of streaming video services, there's undeniable pressure for service providers to address consumer demand for a la carte programming without upsetting their basic business models. These kind of small steps are welcome,” he added. “For those that aren't interested in hundreds of channels at their fingertips… it's a sign that companies may finally be open to addressing their wants and needs as well.”
CNET’s Joan E. Solsman seems a little more skeptical about the new plan. “Don't get too excited” about the new package, she warns. “Though it looks like progress toward breaking out HBO, it's a big leap from here to getting HBO Go on its own. And Time Warner, HBO's owner, has signaled it's a leap it has little interest in making.”
She said that Comcast is hoping to reach out to individuals who are currently broadband-only subscribers, and dangling HBO – with its popular and critically acclaimed library of original content – out there like a carrot attempting to lure them in to become multiple product customers. Their HBO Go app gives customers unlimited access to those TV shows, but such access usually requires pricey cable or satellite subscription packages.
“Comcast's offer this week tweaks the norm,” Solsman said. “This is the first time that Comcast is offering HBO as part of a lower-cost package. The company previously has offered bundles that provide broadband services plus an economy television subscription that – largely because it lacks live sports channels – is cheaper than more complete packages, but HBO is new. And while this could make HBO more palatable to some people fed up with pricey cable bills, it isn't much of a signal that HBO Go is any closer to being offered directly to consumers.”