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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pay TV's Flagship Channels Inching Closer to Full On-Demand Access

A year or so back, HBO executives publicly suggested that they are considering offering their channel online and to streaming devices, such as Roku and Netgear NeoTV, for a fee. This would work the same as it does now, only viewers would be able to subscribe directly to HBO without having to be a cable/satellite customer. Showtime's Anytime, available on their website, now streams the channel's West Coast feed to subscribers' devices (starting today). However, neither network allows those of us without satellite or cable subscriptions full access to their channels - at least not yet. And that is their loss, as well as ours.

Having cut the cord years ago, I dearly miss HBO and have declared my desire to subscribe to the channel outside of a satellite/cable subscription many times. HBO is almost inexorably tied to the cable/satellite subscription model, having been the cornerstone of pay television for nearly 50 years now; it helped to found and build cable TV, especially in the early days. But, like the music industry before it, failure to not only recognize the move toward streaming media but embrace it wholeheartedly could prove disastrous to the network, and those consequences may be felt far more quickly than their executives think.

The days of The Sopranos and Sex and the City are behind it. Few people I know, including myself, could name a current HBO original series (assuming Curb Your Enthusiasm is no longer on - I don't even know that!) and the only reason I can name any of Showtime's originals that are currently airing is because they're all going into their 10th season. However, Showtime does have a significant presence on Roku: Their Showtime Preview offers the season premiere episodes of each of their original shows for free. HBO Go is also available on Roku but nothing is offered freely; you must be a cable/satellite subscriber to view it. Likewise, the SyFy Channel has a Roku station which only shows clips and previews.

Seeing as how all of these cable channels already have stations in place, it can't be that difficult to make the leap to offering stand-alone subscriptions. It would be no different from paying each month for Hulu+ or Netflix and Roku carries several other pay channels with prices ranging from 99¢ to $6.99 and up. I will go into more detail on this in a moment (in another post) but I just wanted to reiterate that I would be willing to pay for all three of these networks' programming to be delivered to my Roku and I'm absolutely certain other streaming device owners are too.

© C Harris Lynn, 2013

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