Is HBO Living Behind the Networks?

The Room Room Blog: Scott's Side HBO is living in the past.  They are behaving like it is still the 1980's and I feel it is going to hurt them in the long run.  HBO is behind NBC, ABC, FOX and way behind CBS.  That is a sentence I never thought I would say.  And when I say HBO, I really mean Showtime,  Cinemax and Starz as well.   I can go online right now and watch last night's episode of Modern Family at ABC.com.  I will be forced to watch maybe 7 commercials in total but I will still be able to watch it.  HBO ( I am going to use them as my example because they are the only channel I care about) is a pay channel so they do not have that option of giving their programming for free or with commercial sponsors.  That is why HBO charges a monthly fee.  The fact that they charge that monthly fee has allowed me to spend 5 years with McNulty, 8 years with Larry David, 6 years with Carrie Bradshaw and a glorious 6 years with Hank Kingsley.  If it wasn't for the monthly fee, every one of those shows would have been cancelled in the first year by every network executive.  Let's be fair, there isn't an executive on network  TV that would have even green lighted them in the first place.  So, since the 70's HBO has had a system.  They give their feed to the cable provider, the cable provider chargers the viewer a monthly fee and we get HBO.  That was a system invented before there was HD, internet, streaming, or even before there was a Michael Jackson Thriller album.   I think times have changed.  They might as well be providing their shows on 8 track.

This week I got an email from Netflix giving me a free month of streaming.  Since the kids are off for Christmas break and we have been living cable free for 2 months, I decided this was a good time to try out streaming.  It was that or hear the children talk to me and what father wants that?  TV was invented to entertain our children so we don't have to.  I would say in less than 5 minutes, I had Netflix playing on my Wii and the kids were watching some awful Disney program that shows two young boys saying nothing funny and being totally disrespectful to all adults.  But I had a thought, why can't I do this with HBO.  I would gladly pay $7.99 for HBO online. I would pay $9.99 for it and honestly, I would pay the $12,99 I paid Time Warner for it.  Now before you tell me about HBO GO, I want to tell you that you must have a code from your Cable or Satellite provider to be able to use HBO GO.  So, that is no help at all.  I want to pay HBO a fee and be able to watch it through my lap top or streaming device just like my children can to watch "Butt Cheek and Cody" or what ever that Disney show abomination is called.  I am fine with the fact that HBO has not given any of their shows to Netflix to stream.  They are right to keep them for themselves but then they have to offer it to me directly.

Let's really take a look at this.  What other business makes you pay a fee to a third-party for their product?  Can you imagine going to McDonalds for  Big Mac and the cashier saying, "Have you paid the monthly $100.00 fee to the Restaurant Association?" And you would reply, "But I don't want to eat at Burger King or KFC, I just want to eat at your place and have a Big Mac.  I will pay you the $3.00 for it."  And they would say, "No, you have to pay them $100 and then pay us $3.00."  You would never eat a Big Mac again.  But HBO wants me to pay $100 a month to Time Warner for stuff I: A) don't want to watch and B) can watch online for free.  I can see why HBO can't offer up their movie packages, maybe there is a licensing fee, but who gets HBO to watch Iron Man 2 for the 24th time?  We want Broadwalk Empire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Real Time With Bill Mahr.  It is time for HBO to branch off, sell it to me directly and get rid of a tyrannical middle man.  They have always been on the forefront of television.  It is time to let go of the past and step into the new digital age.  Let the company that behaved like a monopoly that had us by the throat, suffocate and go away.  Sounds like a great episode of The Sorpanos. I would love to Stream an episode of that right about now but...

 

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