Here's Why Non-Cable HBO May Not Be So Great

For some, the point of cable is having HBO. Where else are you going to (legally) get Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire? If you're a cord cutter, or at least want to be, we've got good news. HBO is planning to offer a subscription service in 2015 that doesn't require a cable subscription. That might sound dandy, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. We know it's web-based, and launchings sometime in 2015 — but that's about it.

In a statement, HBO CEO Richard Plepler said "It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO, and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them."

HBO also says they will work with "current partners" to bring a standalone HBO service to everyone, cable or not. The company also said they'd explore opportunities with new partners, but didn't elaborate on what they had in mind.

That's what we know: HBO is coming sans-cable. Somehow, some way.

Here's what we don't know: pricing, availability, how they'll charge us, when it's coming, what content we'll get (and when), or how we'll be able to take advantage. HBO currently doesn't have a method for accepting payments, which means they'll likely need to partner with someone, perhaps Amazon or Netflix. That also means those two will get a piece of the take, and pricing might be higher for this web-based service.

Regardless of whether or not HBO partners with a third-party company for payments, or builds their own service, we don't know how much they'll charge monthly (or annually, or whatever). Current HBO GO service comes courtesy of your HBO cable subscription, which is typically about $10-20/month.

This HBO non-cable streaming is coming in 2015, but we don't have a timeline aside from that. We're also not hearing if this web-based service will stream live content, or leave us an hour or more behind cable broadcasts. We also don't know if the full back-catalog will be made available, or if HBO Sports (read: boxing) content will be around.

And how will we log-in? HBO GO typically asks for your cable provider log-in credentials, and like mobile payments — HBO doesn't have a solid system set-up for logging us in. Again, this likely means a partner, or social log-in procedure.

Is it a neat concept? Absolutely. Just don't think this will mean you can "cut the cord". Chances are, the cable version of HBO will remain much better (on demand content, for one). If your Internet subscription is tied into your cable bill, or via the same pipeline, you're not really cutting any cords at all.

Via: Re/Code