For many customers, HBO refuses to offer any legal option to access its content, while pushing harsh penalties for those who steal it
Time Warner Inc.’s (TWX) network cash cow HBO (Home Box Office) has convinced some to “cut the cable” (cable TV cable that is… you need internet still) by signing up for HBO Now — a $15 USD/month subscription service. The service gives you access to all the most coveted content at cable television’s oldest network. That includes the most pirated show on the internet — Game of Thrones.
I. Of Streaming and VPNs
After its March 9 unveil at Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Watch launch event, HBO Now went live on April 7 — just in time for the Sunday, April 12 premier of Game of Thrones. So just how many people signed up for the service? It’s hard to say, but it’s likely no more than a couple million initially, given that most users will need an Apple device to access it and only so many own a compatible device.
If you don’t own an Apple device, the only way you’re going to get access is if Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) happens to provide services in your area. Cablevision is the first cable internet provider to bite on Time Warner’s offer in that space. It allows its cable internet users to directly subscrible to HBO Now on settop boxes, without a cable TV package. When you consider Cablevision only has a couple million internet customers, though, it’s clear access is still pretty limited.
[Image Source: The Verge]
Now there’s yet another hoop you have to jump through — U.S. residency. HBO Now is currently a U.S. only service. Outside the U.S. it would be an attractive option, given that even as close as Canada there’s regions that don’t have a cable provider offering HBO. Overseas — in Europe, for example — HBO access is even harder to come by.
But like most streaming services including Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) international uses is verboeten. To be fair, this prohibition isn’t entirely Netflix, Amazon, or even HBO’s fault. Some of it comes down to local copyright licensing deals. Locally different companies may license certain content that is licensed by these popular streaming services in the U.S. To allow free international access to the U.S. subscription service would seem to amount to breaching those local licensing deals. So it’s not allowed.
No problem right?