HBO isn’t ready to upset their lucrative distribution deals with cable providers by offering HBO Go as a standalone, online-only service. But Comcast may just have the next best thing. As reported by GigaOM, the company has begun selling a $40 ‘Internet Plus’ package comprising a 25 Mbps internet connection, a selection of 45 local channels, Comcast's streaming video service Streampix, and a subscription to HBO and HBO Go.
The service is only available in certain markets and requires no long-term contract so you can cancel anytime. There are some caveats, though. The offer is available only to new customers who sign up before January 31st, and the $40 pricing is only available for the first 12 months -- after that it will jump to $70 a month.
HBO executives have been hinting at the possibility of tying HBO Go to broadband services for months and this appears to be what they had in mind. Pricing is more or less in line with what the network’s chief executive Richard Plepler said back in March, suggesting customers could pay $50 a month for their Internet and an extra $10 or $15 for HBO to be packaged in with the service, adding that they “would have to make the math work.”
Although technically this isn’t cord cutting as you’re still getting regular HBO through a cable subscription, it certainly beats spending $100 a month or more on a full service package that bundles countless channels you don’t really care about just to gain access to a select few you routinely watch.
People have been campaigning for a la carte television programming for years -- and those living in Canada are already seeing some progress here. But while US providers may be reluctant to follow, cheaper and more flexible packages are at least a step forward. We’ll see if others follow suit.