Last week Steve Belk at CutCableToday posted about a survey he'd received after canceling his HBO Now account.
In case you missed it, HBO Now is HBO's new streaming-only subscription service that we talked about back in March. It's a $15/month service that gives you access to HBO's content without the need for a cable TV subscription.
So back to the survey. After Belk responded that price was the primary reason he opted not to continue his HBO Now subscription, he was asked which of four options might get him to renew. The options were an additional one month free trial, a three-month subscription for $29.99, a six-month sub for $59.99, or a one-year subscription for $99.99.
Pretty interesting, eh? There're some caveats though. First, it's just a survey question, not an actual offer. Second, the survey specifies that these would be one-time offers.
Still as someone who is paying about $180/year to get HBO through a cable provider, that $99 deal has me drooling a little bit even if it was only good for the first year.
And that's why I don't think they're going to become actual deals any time soon. I think these offers would cannibalize cable TV HBO subscriptions in a big way, and I'm not sure HBO is ready to alienate their cable partners. In fact I don't think it's a coincidence that HBO Now costs the same as HBO via cable provider. Factor in frequent deals and the bundles cable providers offer and HBO Now can wind up being more expensive than HBO via cable subscription.
The popularity of Netflix demonstrates that consumers are comfortable with streaming services. If HBO Now was cheaper than HBO via subscription, anyone with a decent broadband package and cable TV service would switch, or at least they would once HBO Now breaks out of its exclusive Apple TV cage which happens in a couple of months.
So as much as it pains me to say it, I don't think we'll see $99 annual HBO Now subscriptions any time soon.
Even with HBO Now costing the same as HBO via cable, I wonder if we'll see users migrating to it once it's available on more devices. Between a more robust streaming infrastructure (HBO Now uses MLB Advanced Media's streaming technology while HBO Go — the streaming service that comes with HBO — uses a system built in-house at HBO, and the latter is prone to issues during very popular events) and the ease of signing up and canceling the service (without having to call the cable company), HBO Now seems like a better service than HBO to me. In fact once HBO Now is available on more streaming hardware I might switch even without any kind of deal.