in General

The problem with HBO


I’ve debated for awhile about posting this because I don’t really have all of the pieces, but with the release of the latest preview of Game of Thrones Season 4 it reminded me about this.

As you may, or may not know, you can only, legally, watch HBO shows by subscribing to their service through your local cable provider.  And most of the time in order to get HBO you’ve got to pay top dollar to get it or pay an extra fee. You can’t download it off of iTunes, Amazon or any other provider I’m not aware of.  Illegally you can download it off a torrent and a lot of people do.  According to this article by, the Season 3 final episode had 5.9 million downloads off of torrents (the article is an interesting read by the way.  HBO knows this is happening and for the time being chooses to ignore it).

Trying to be an upstanding citizen I don’t download illegally.  I’m ever so tempted however because it’s a damn good show.  If I could get the show legally through iTunes or Amazon, I’d be all over it (which leads to another post, but I’ll leave that for another day).

So lets explore what HBO could stand to make if they put it on iTunes or Amazon.  Lets take the 5.9 million downloads for the last episode of season 3.  If they converted half of those they could make a boat load of money (over 2 million by my calculations…for standard definition).  For High Def it would be a bit more.  To me it seems like a no brainer, but what I don’t know is how much they make from their cable deals.  I suspect if they were to offer these online they would lose some of their cable subscribers (which is already happening whether they want to believe it or not).  So it may not be in their interests, but to leave that money on the table just makes my jaw drop. I’ll take that money!

Your thoughts on what HBO is doing?