I’m a cable subscriber. We’ve been paying for cable as long as I can remember, and being a child born in the 70’s, most of my life I’ve lived with cable TV. As a youth I was introduced to many a film through cable television, and my parents subscribed to HBO, a premium movie channel. Back then, there were only a few pay channels to choose from, and HBO was the big dog of the pack. Sure, Showtime had it’s following, and Cinemax and The Movie Channel were trying to carve out their niche with late-night softcore adult movies, but HBO was what I knew and watched.
Not only did HBO have movies, but original programming is nothing new for HBO. Comedies like Not Necessarily The News, 1st & 10, and The Kids in the Hall, children’s shows like Fraggle Rock, sports coverage of Wimbledon and boxing, and anthology series like The Hitchhiker and Tales From The Crypt; HBO had something for everyone.
Once I moved out and started paying for my own cable, I dropped HBO. By then, there were VHS rentals, $1 movie theaters, and watching TV wasn’t a priority for me. Granted, HBO was still pumping out some remarkable original programming, but once DVDs hit the scene, you could rent or buy seasons of HBO original programming and still avoid paying them that monthly premium cable subscription.
By the late 90’s, technology changed, the Internet came to everyone’s home, and piracy started to become commonplace. Netflix appeared and DVD rentals skyrocketed. There were other ways to get HBO content without paying the cable company more money, but that’s when HBO shifted into high gear and some of their best original series launched. The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, The Wire: all of these shows were critically-acclaimed and worth every bit of praise heaped upon them. They kept people on the hook by raising the bar. Then technology changed again and in 2007, Netflix introduced streaming content. HBO was still living in the dark ages of DVD and cable subscriptions.
In 2010, HBO finally jumped into streaming with HBO GO. It required an active HBO subscription to watch your favorite HBO programming, but you had nearly everything they’d ever released at your fingertips. Unlike Netflix, which is also subscription-based, HBO encouraged their subscribers to share their login for HBO GO with others. This was a huge change in attitude for the network, but it also helped them to stay competitive with Netflix, who by now was creating original programming of their own and being quite successful with this new endeavor. While I still had yet to take the plunge with HBO on my cable bill, I was a Netflix subscriber and had been since it started. I didn’t see a problem with paying about $8 a month for streaming content, but I still wasn’t going to pay more to the cable company.
Just this month, HBO has changed the rules and launched HBO NOW, their own streaming subscription. No longer do you have to pay the cable company to watch HBO; you can now pay them $14.99 per month directly and get everything they have to watch on your iOS device, Apple TV, or any computer with a high-speed internet connection. That’s more money than Netflix but the programming HBO offers, when you consider how much content they’ve created and all the movies they have the rights to show, is well-worth that $15. They’re currently offering a free month to try out the service (https://order.hbonow.com) and you can get the app on your iOS device to sign up too. I used my Apple TV to launch my trial and am enjoying the latest Game of Thrones episode as I write.
I’ve missed HBO. I’m a spendthrift on my fronts and paying more for cable has always been an issue for me. With HBO NOW, I can revisit an old friend for a month and see if I want to stick around for more. Maybe you should visit too?