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HBO starting to think letting people without cable have access to HBO GO might be a good idea

After it was revealed last year that Game Of Thrones is far and away TV’s most illegally downloaded series, most analysts came to one of two conclusions: 1) There are people downloading TV shows illegally and the cops are powerless to stop them, therefore we need to invent some sort of “RoboCop;” and 2) HBO should really find a way to make content available to those without premium cable subscriptions, now that viewers are increasingly turning to streaming services instead of overstuffed cable packages. At the time, HBO co-president Eric Kessler scoffed at such responses, characterizing the numbers of cable-free adopters as “minimal” and representative of temporary “macroeconomic” conditions, and not believing any “RoboCop” could ever replace old-fashioned Detroit police street smarts.

But HBO’s chief executive Richard Plepler now seems to be coming around on at least one of those: He tells Reuters that the network is considering allowing access to its popular HBO GO service to people who don’t have cable TV, and looking into partnering with broadband providers to package it with monthly Internet services. This is still just in early talks; as mentioned before, HBO would have to deal with its current distribution partners and take care not to disrupt an arrangement that still generates billions of dollars for everyone involved. But putting an optimistic spin on it for the first time, Plepler says that, should they find a way to “make the math work,” they currently have “the right model” to roll out when they do, which would allow subscribers to add $10 or $15 a month to their Internet costs for HBO GO, thus saving them from having to sign up for a whole cable package and HBO and Internet just to legally watch the specific shows they want. And that would surely mean no one would ever pirate Game Of Thrones again, and there’d be no need to resort to RoboCops just yet.


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