Thoughts on this 'subscription economy' I've wandered into.

I finally canceled my HBO subscription this week. Make no mistake, there are shows I love on HBO but none of them are airing right now. That meant I was spending $15/month on a service I wasn't really using.

The reason I dragged my feet on shutting down the subscription was that I had to contact my cable provider to cancel, and who wants to sit on hold waiting on a customer service person? Knowing that you may be handed off to a retention specialist who'll try to sweet talk you into keeping the subscription makes the prospect even less appealing. It's an easy chore to put off, and before you know it you've paid for another month.

I'll go back to HBO eventually (at the very latest, when Game of Thrones returns next spring) but when I do it'll be via HBO Now. That's the streaming version of the service, and I'll choose it because I won't have to deal with my cable provider to sign up or shut down the subscription.

Of course that assumes that HBO Now will be easy to access. The good news is that the Apple exclusivity deal finally ran out. HBO Now is finally available on Android  and Amazon mobile devices. It is supposed to arrive on Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV stick and Android TV devices in the coming weeks. That's a good start but personally I'd like to see it on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 as well as on Roku boxes.

It has to be hassle-free. Let me watch on the device I'm sitting in front of.

I've been wanting to watch a couple of shows on Showtime for some time, but it took their new 'easy on/easy off' streaming service to get me to finally sign up. Knowing I can cancel without talking to a person made it feel like a good choice. In fact what I sometimes do is subscribe for a month and immediately cancel (I'll still have access for a month) just in case I get distracted and forget to cancel if I'm not using the service.

I've drifted into a 'subscription economy' at this point; I rarely buy music, TV or movies, opting instead to subscribe to a service that offers what I want. I'm fine with that as long as all these services I subscribe to make it super easy for me to sign up, and more importantly, sign off. If I have to call someone to cancel a subscription I'm never going back to that service. Years ago Audible made me sit on hold for 20 minutes just to cancel a subscription and I've never gone back because of it, and to this day I think about the service in negative terms.

It's worth pointing out one feature of Hulu that I really appreciate. They let you 'pause' a subscription. If I'm heavily invested in a few shows on a competing platform and figure I won't be using Hulu for a month or two I can just pause my subscription. I won't get charged but all my settings and queues will be saved. When I'm ready to come back (or what the pause period ends) the subscription starts back up seamlessly. I'd love to see more services offer something like this.

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