Premium cable service HBO has finally taken the wraps off HBO Go, a Web-based streaming video service that carries the channel’s exclusive movies and content. And, even better, it’s free…at least, if you’re already paying to be a subscriber to HBO or Cinemax. The service marks an added value HBO is hoping will convince consumers to stick with pricey premium television services even during a tough economy, rather than waiting for HBO-exclusive content to trickle down to DVD rental services like Netflix or even (gasp!) public libraries.
One advantage HBO Go may have over lower-cost competition is earlier access to new releases: HBO pays high fees for exclusive cracks at new Hollywood releases, and with studios like Warner Bros. engaging in deals that delay the availability of new releases to companies like Netflix and Redbox, HBO Go might be an appealing add-on for movie fans who have to keep up with the latest of everything, as well as HBO exclusives like True Blood.
Currently, HBO Go is only available to subscribers via Comcast or Verizon’s Fios service; the company hasn’t comment on when (or if) subscribers from other services will be able to tap into HBO Go. HBO Go also isn’t available as a Web-only service: even if consumers want to pay HBO a monthly subscription fee for online access to their content, they can’t: the only way in is through a supported TV subscription. Presumably HBO does want to compete with its distributors and affiliates by offering an online-only version of HBO direct to consumers.