Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth to HBO, Get With The Times!

Why isn't HBO content available for sale on iTunes?

Sure, I know the standard answer. "HBO is a subscription service. If you want to watch HBO, you must sign up for it. If they sold their shows on iTunes, why would anyone pay their cable company for HBO?"

Blah, blah, blah.

Let's face facts, folks. There are some people who will always subscribe to HBO. It's convenient, it's practically forced down your throat when you sign up for cable, and it's ideal for channel surfing. Those people aren't going to ditch the monthly subscription for iTunes.

There are also a group of people that will never subscribe to HBO. They're not going to pay $15 per month -- every month -- for the few times that a movie comes on that they haven't already rented at NetFlix or BlockBuster. It's just not worth it to them to pay that much for an occasional movie. They might, however, pay $1.99 for an episode of Entourage.

Unfortunately, HBO does not allow that. They have the All or Nothing mentality. Subscribe, or you get nothing until the box set comes out a year later.

Here's a hint, HBO Execs. What you're really telling people is "Steal our content on Bit Torrent". If you don't offer a legal alternative where consumers can purchase your shows ala-cart, it will be stolen instead. That's the reality of the 21st century. It's your responsibility to provide the content when and where people want it. You no longer get to dictate how your shows are watched.

Maybe you should take a page out of Showtime playbook. They sell every one of their original series on iTunes. Weeds, The L Word, Californication, Penn & Teller BS -- everything. They don't seem to be suffering. In fact, what they are doing is making more money with their existing content, and by exposing people to their shows, they're probably getting a few extra subscribers as well.

So, get with the program HBO. It's 2008. Time to listen to your customers and embrace new technology.

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