Jeremy Toeman responds to my letter to HBO (to let me pay for HBO Go without requiring that I pay for cable). He makes a number of solid points as to why the economics simply will not work right now.
But the keywords are “right now”.
I have no doubt that HBO is in no hurry to walk away from their cable partners who not only send them billions, but handle all the logistics (collecting the money, customer support, etc). But it would be very unwise to think that this model will continue in perpetuity.
The cable model is going to get disrupted. It may not happen next year, it may not even fully happen in five years, but it will happen. And as I said in my original post, HBO has a chance to lead this revolution instead of being run over by it. Right now, they hold the key: killer content.
If they’re actually worrying about things like not having the infrastructure to take payments or handling customer support, they may have already lost. They’re allowing themselves to be held hostage by a middle man that is not aging well (the cable companies). Again, one day he will die. And where does that leave HBO?
Scrambling to figure shit out while new competitors they never considered to be competitors eat their lunch — that’s where.
MG spells it out so clearly and succinctly here. This could be a letter to any number of content-making (or other-making) big behemoths… there’s plenty of time to avoid doom for them, but big ships just can’t turn very quickly. The pain of turning often makes all of the people who see the future jump to smaller life boats (that later become the big ships’ replacements) rather than help steer them. But still… I think HBO has at least 5 years to figure this out. So do lots of other companies. Will they, though?