I've had a serious love affair with the network beginning with Dream On, The Larry Sanders Show, then moving on to Oz (yeah it was a 'male' soap opera I guess :), Sopranos, 6 Feet Under, Deadwood - which I didn't particularly _love_, but highly respected, and most of all The Wire (best thing to ever grace the screen IMO - they lost $$ on it throughout its run)... and then I killed my cable sub and haven't seen anything of their's since.
Now Mad Men and Breaking Bad are my two favorite shows, they're both on AMC, and I can easily purchase each season on iTunes HD for just north of $30. Every episode is available hours after they originally air. I'd pay twice that much.
Of course, the problem is HBO is just too tightly coupled to big cable. They're one of the main attractions, and as such the kickbacks they get are tied to contracts that prevent them from wresting their content to any great degree. Until this model changes, their A content won't see the light of day, and more draconian measures are likely to be put in place to thwart piracy. It's not HBO itself per-see, but HBO as a proxy for big cable; as a defense mechanism to prop up a flailing business model.
I waited a year and bought the blu ray version, but I still can't understand why HBO wouldn't prefer to get their money earlier rather than later.
Cable companies are fiercely protective of their status as content providers. As they see it, the biggest threat to cable is that it gets turned into a commoditized dumb pipe. Any move by partners like HBO in the direction of supplying content over IP is seen as a move towards marginalizing their business.
Bring back the trust busters.
For awhile there, it seemed as if HBO was making great strides in decoupling itself from the traditional cable model. HBO GO is a great app, and its launch represented an intriguing challenge to the status quo of the analog and digital content ecosystems.
We should keep in mind, however, that HBO is owned by Time Warner -- a company with plenty of vested interests in the status quo, not to mention a number of other cable and broadcast channels (CNN, Cartoon Network, CW, etc.) whose existence as discrete networks would be (in its view) threatened by overly disruptive maneuvers by one of its subsidiaries.
Furthermore, HBO's bread is buttered by the big cable providers. It makes the majority of its revenue from licensing fees to the likes of Comcast, Time Warner Cable (not presently owned by Time Warner, fwiw), AT&T, and the others.
Ultimately, I get the impression that HBO -- were it an independent business entity -- would be acting more aggressively to move away from the status quo. It seems to realize that it's aboard a slowly sinking ship. Unfortunately, it happens to be an officer of that ship's crew.
The other day, there was an ad on TV for HBO Go. I was like "wow, finally, HBO in Europe (in the Netherlands in this case), AND with an app?!"
So I went directly to my computer to look at the details with the firm intention to subscribe if it'd be a reasonable price (let's say 15 euros per month).
So I go on their website and what do I see ? To get the app, you need to subscribe to their cable channels. But wait ? I just want the streaming, I don't care about their channels (particularly because I am in a shared apartment).
But I thought "OK, let's see how much they cost", so I go to the next page, and what do I see ? HBO is only available on Zyggo. No way to get them with any other provider. And I'm sure not gonna switch providers, a lot of hassle in the first place, but even more in this case since it's a shared apartment and all.
Conclusion : they lost one customer, and probably more, because I have plenty of friends here that watch a lot of HBO shows, usually illegally acquired, because otherwise you get to see them 1 year later, that would probably have paid for it as well.
Way to go HBO !
This is technology that already exists for machines that sell packets of crisps, and last time I checked, running a tv company was at least as technical an endeavour as crisp manufacture, so it isn't as though they can claim not to have the skill to do this.
HBO was innovative in their "commando" phase but now they're a large cable incumbent. They're either in the infantry or police phase now. Basically they're not concerned with gaining new territory. They're most concerned with defending their current position.
This is a problem every incumbent faces when they grow sufficiently large. Microsoft's decisions of the last 15 years have been borne of a fear that something will kill the Windows/Office golden goose.
The ultimate evolution of this defensive strategy is for a company to launch a conflagration of litigation, often with a new CEO, in a last-ditch effort to squeeze out some value. You saw it with SCO. You see it with Yahoo.
Defense is a short-term strategy. At the point you stop innovating you've already begun to die. It may take awhile. Billion dollar companies don't die overnight (although Groupon may prove me wrong). Yahoo has been dying a slow death for years.
I would gladly pay a (reasonable) monthly fee just for HBO. But I'm not going to pay $100+/month for cable and it. I pay for Netflix. At $8/month it may not have all the content but it's enough for me.
HBO is now locked in the same death spiral big cable is: big cable doesn't want a la carte cable because people either won't use it if it's too expensive or they'll spend less on cable, neither being a good outcome (for them). HBO needs big cable to distribute their content. My theory is they can't circumvent that without threatening what is their main source of income (big cable won't react well to being cut out of the loop). The risk of that strategy, from their perspective, is simply too high.
HBO should be afraid of the rise of the likes of AMC. If they're not careful the next generation of innovators is going to eat them for breakfast.
As long as HBO continues to make compelling content, various distributors will line up to buy it. For now, the US cable companies are the bulk of their revenue. But they already make $1bn or so annually from overseas sales of their programs, so it's not like they're unprepared to sell a show to somebody like Netflix, Amazon, or Apple.
There's a difference?
That you see them as separate shows you aren't on board with the large groups focused on trying to force people to pay as often and as much as possible to access the content they control.
To my knowledge, a group of friends watching a TV Show together from a DVR is not Piracy, but HBO isn't making money from me.
Its an old story you will see repeated again and again. When you have nothing to lose, you take big chances, when you have lots to lose you mitigate risks.
"Of course, the problem is HBO is just too tightly coupled to big cable."
Given that 'big cable' represents a big chunk of their revenue I don't know if "too tightly coupled" represents it. Basically once the acquisition cost of digital content gets ahead of its marginal market value* the revenue stream becomes more and more at risk to alternate venues (like BitTorrent). My guess is that the 'blind spot' for a lot of companies that started before the prevalent Internet and are still around, aren't looking (or believing) the economics that show how they can thrive by sharing some of the ecosystem with the likes of NetFlix or Hulu or even YouTube. So it is left to a new 'HBO' which has nothing to lose to embrace the current mechanisms and markets and to be successful to lead the way.
* I define the term 'marginal market value' to be the net economic value derived from the difference between the lifetime value of a consumer purchase less the cost to acquire that consumer. Pre-existing structures like cable content agreements can create a revenue stream which is higher than the marginal market value for new customers, and when that happens, unless the company is thinking about it, they focus more on preserving those existing over valued relationships rather than building new consumer relationships to capture that value. Externally this expresses as a company whose margins and customers slowly erode over time until they either exit the market or things get back down to the marginal market value point and can start growing again.
"In future HBO Go could allow the network to bypass the entire pay-TV system. For now, going “over the top” in this way makes no sense, says Bill Nelson, HBO’s chief executive. There are roughly 105m multichannel TV households in America, of which 77m do not subscribe to HBO. By contrast, he reckons, there are only about 3m households with broadband connections and reasonable amounts of money but no multichannel TV."
HBO has what cable companies need. The companies simply can't afford to cut them off.
HBO should call their bluff, honestly.
Current HBO subscribers = 28M
Revenue per subscriber = $5
Households that can support HBO Go = 5M
Revenue per subscriber = $15
Assume 100% of eligible households subscribe.
(28M * -5 * x%) + (3M * 15 * 100%) = y
x = 32.14%
If we assume HBO Go adoption rates are the same as cable subscribers (26.6%), that means 800k subscribers.
(28M * -5 * x%) + (800k * 15 * 100%) = y
x = 8.57%
Another way to put it, in order to risk $140M to gain $12M you need to be more than 91% sure.
It's usually unwise to start a fight you can't win.
Currently the upside to directly delivery is small; there just aren't that many people who have the hardware, bandwidth, and inclination to buy shows online. Certainly nothing like the 28 million subscribers they currently have.
There is no serious incentive for them to be a pioneer in this. Amazon, Apple, and Netflix are doing a fine job of figuring out what a la carte TV show delivery will eventually mean. When the market is big enough to make it worth getting in a fight with the cable monopolies, I'm sure HBO will do it. But for now, they can let other people take the risk.
Even their DVD sales of Game of Thrones occur until 1 month right before the 2nd tv season begins. All the more to goose interest in the show and channel subscription....
Regardless, premium content like HBO is different than broadcast television. The cable companies never had US exclusives to Saturday Night Live. But they do for Game of Thrones, and I doubt they'll give that up willingly. Remember: they're monopolists, and to a monopolist there's no such thing as fair competition.
edit: I don't necessarily believe in this as a sound way of doing business, but I understand why they'd think this way.
Netflix alone had over 23 million streaming subscribers at the end of Q4. I'd say your instincts as to the market potential are quite underwhelming.
To me, that says that HBO would be idiots to fuck up their current cable relationships in hopes of building their own direct-distribution product. For now they can happily continue to sell the downloadable content to Amazon at the same time they release the DVDs.
The problem for both is/was the jump from middleman-controlled to direct-to-customer involves a huge backlash in the process. The middleman will have to follow thru on the threat to drop distribution completely, at a time that direct customer contact is growing but still inadequate to make up that loss. Cutting out the middleman means a big hole that takes time to fill; it's killing the cash cow then waiting for the calf to mature.
I used to love HBO, but they've been stagnant lately (in my opinion.) "Luck" is already cancelled. Though I had high hopes for it being the harbinger of HBO's return, I think the last great show they produced was "Carnivale".
Thanks for bringing up iTunes, as I've been having a hard time catching up on AMC shows I missed, and didn't know they had the inventory anywhere.
It was a big-budget affair, too.
I know this because I know how HBO GO works at my company. The subscriber visits HBO's site, but then they have to tell HBO which cable company they have. Then HBO redirects them to that company's website! After they verify with the cable company that they are an HBO subscriber, the cable company redirects the user back to HBO with a "subscriber" token.
Hurting Game of Thrones Through Piracy Won’t Change HBO’s Business, It Will Just Get the Show Cancelled: http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/hurting-game-of-th...
Piracy thwarts everything HBO has to track and measure ratings, so how could they possibly "do the math" and figure out the size, demographics, and potential conversion rate of this group?
I think it's more chaining HBO to a cable subscription is a known quantity, and venturing out into a pure streaming service is the great unknown.
Honestly its not that hard. HBO just has to look at how offering HBO GO as a standalone service would cost them from whatever punishment would be handed down from the large cable operators. This is likely a very known quantity (We'll call it X). Then they just need to do a little market research to know how many people are 1. not buying cable. 2. Would by HBO Go as a standalone service (We'll call this Y) if Y is greater then X then it would make sense. The Piracy conversion angle is pretty meaningless since its a subset of the actual target market.
I have no idea the actual numbers but having worked in the industry for sometime I'm guessing that Y is pretty much a rounding error compared to X.
I don't think they've done the math, because I think "market research" into the underground world of private torrent trackers is, uhh, a lot harder than you seem to think it is, trust me. If HBO were running ads on a site like TorrentFreak to take a survey, then perhaps I'd think they're actually doing their due diligence in this area, but they're not.
I'll offer an alternative hypothesis (blowhard: I worked in digital video distribution for a paytv software company for 4 years)
HBO is clinging to their legacy business model. The direct Internet streaming market is untrusted and scary. They're afraid to even attempt to cross the bridge.
The point is that companies like HBO are probably leaving money on the table. There are a lot of folks who are willing to pay to watch Game of Thrones, assuming that they could pay a couple bucks to download (not stream) a high-quality 720p/1080p file around the same time the show airs on HBO. But HBO has (apparently) decided that's not in their best interest, instead only providing two options:
1. pay for an HBO subscription
2. wait for disc-based release (DVD/Blu-ray)
For folks who have cut the cable/satellite cord and who don't want to wait for months, neither option works, so they pursue the only option left.
Maybe the folks at HBO aren't idiots, but then again they haven't exactly experimented with a different model, now have they? They assume they make more money with the current legacy model, but as Louis C.K. discovered, I'd wager HBO would actually make more money if they allowed folks to buy downloadable high-quality .mp4 files at the same time the show airs. If they ever decide to try that model, then -- and only then -- can you or HBO claim they've done the math.
The point of the article is that they are employing new DRM that is locking out paying cable subscribers. Furthermore this does not affect pirates because all it takes is one guy to crack the DRM and seed the torrent and it's game over. The effect of this is to promote piracy not to suppress it, and I challenge anyone to provide any credible evidence otherwise.
When HBO finally does make the shift to a standalone IP service it's going to look a lot more like Netflix than the iTunes Store. HBO doesn't want to sell you a couple episodes or even an entire series. They want to sell you the entire HBO service every single month. They will continue to stagger their original programing so you are enticed to keep the service instead of canceling after your favorite show is done for the season. They will mix in older catalog titles with newer titles to keep programming costs under control. They will continue using the HBO service's popularity as a platform for launching new original programming.
The fact that no one else has been able to pull off the HBO model via IP yet is a pretty good indication that HBO has time to gracefully make the shift to IP on their own terms. Netflix is trying but they don't have the original programming yet and that's a huge part of HBO's success.
I doubt that. Rather, I bet they've made a conscious choice to only be a content provider, not a content distributor. That's a fundamental business change. I say this because if HBO decided to make the change, and enabled, say, a $10 online, streaming subscription, I think they'd make more money than they do now. But that would likely upset their current deals with the cable companies, and it would be a fundamental business model change.
They don't think so. And they have the internal numbers to back up their decision. HBO is a very smart and well run company, and they make buckets and buckets of money from their deals with the cable companies.
You (and I) would love to be able to buy access to their content without paying Comcast (or DirecTV &c.) but the number of people holding that position is VASTLY OUTNUMBERED by the number of people willing and able to pay $40/mo or whatever on top of what is considered a utility service. That's not going to change fast, and there's no point for HBO to get those arrows in their back when Apple/Amazon/Netflix are charging ahead regardless.
Just as a point of comparison, Netflix, with a much larger catalog of shows and movies, has something of the order of 25M subscribers
Obviously an overnight change would not happen, there would be a transition over several years and the streaming subscribers may well be supplementary to existing subscribers. But during the transition, cable company partnerships would be strained and existing revenue would be at risk. Not to mention the capital investment required to provide the content reliably, dealing with the multitude of streaming devices, providing customer support, marketing the product directly to consumers and all the other things that cable companies take care of (albeit badly). Netflix is making bold changes in its business model and it's certainly not an easy thing to do.
Ultimately, HBO's core competency is in creating amazing content. It's arguable if they'd make more money by changing their business model, but I'd wager that HBO execs simply do not want to have to deal with all the distractions from their core mission that would occur by doing so.
The only way they could lose revenue is if current subscribers dropped cable and didn't go with streaming, which seems unlikely to me.
Cable companies are already losing subscribers. They will do everything they can to discourage people from defecting to broadband downloads. One of the most obvious things they can do is to have exclusive content. Which means they would be smart to put immense pressure on HBO to stay out of the distribution business.
They've done the math, and they wouldn't make more money than they do now. That's why they haven't done it yet.
It's not just pure subscription numbers that matter -- it's the millions in free promotion that cable/satellite companies provide that must also be factored into the cost equation, as well as the millions in costs they would incur by expanding their streaming options.
I would be happy to pay them for a subscription. It's just basic cable that I won't pay for.
However, I think the theme here is that cable subscription model is getting disrupted: more and more people will not have cable and will relay on other ways to get viewing content. It might be too late for them to transition to brave new world if they don't start now.
My assumption is that with changing distribution model they also need to change what kind of content they are producing.
Anyway, I'm concern that death of cable will also mean death of HBO and their great content: as revenue from cable subscription start drying down, the revenue from other distribution channels will be too weak to replace it and then the death spiral starts....
What I wonder about is what is happening to the margins of content-production. HBO has been living on fat margins, and I can see why they wouldn't want to give that up. But the increasing numbers of distribution channels seem likely to put pressure on those margins -- more content producers have a chance to get in the game.
HBO I'm sure has more people working on how to make the company profitable than there are comments in this discussion. There's some entitlement floating around here masked as "better ideas". I have no doubt that HBO wants to make paying for their content as easy as possible but...
* they might have done the math and found this way to be more profitable, losses to piracy be damned
* it takes a lot of different entities to make a show like Game of Thromes and you better believe that there are pre-existing contracts galore. These pre-existing agreements may be what's keeping the situation as it is now
If scenario 1 is correct then that's just tough for us. We'll have to wait or pirate. If we pirate then HBO probably doesn't care anyway or they wouldn't have made watching GoT so damn hard.
If scenario 2 is correct then we're placing blame and frustration in the wrong place. At the same time this scenario can vindicate popular opinion around here too.
Whatever the case may be, I sincerely doubt HBO doesn't know what they're doing. They absolutely cannot be so incompetent as to not understand that making it impossible to pay for the show will drive people to piracy. As for inconveniencing current customers, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had a deal with Dish and Cable companies and expected all boxes to be replaced by the time they made this change in their broadcasting.
I could be wrong but if HBO truly doesn't get it my head might just explode.
Kodak knew how to make money. Everyone thought they knew better - and they were right.
But: I said it snippily, and ineffectively. I apologize.
Snippy happens, given a soundbite-oriented medium. No prob. You want room 12A, just along the corridor.
This is nonsense and a horrible analogy. HBO is perfectly suited for the the future you envision. They have a digital streaming infrastructure in place to make the transition they just don't yet have the business case.
The reason the analogy fails is because HBO isn't a medium. Its the content - ask Netflix how easy it is to make a living streaming mediocre video content. Switching to a different distribution mechanism is trivial but for now they're not going to cut off their nose to spite their face just because a tiny subset of subscribers are moving away from cable.
I think that's the biggest part that goes missing in these discussions. Yeah, it's annoying that the moment that they require you to go through a tv provider, but I can see why they wouldn't want to alienate a large revenue source right now.
That said, it's pretty significant that they're building up their streaming infrastructure in the first place. The day will come when cable providers aren't worth cozying up to anymore, and it might even be sooner than HBO thinks. However, if they have everything in place it's going to be a lot easier to push out an update allowing web only customers than it would be to build their streaming service from scratch.
It remains to be seen, of course, how they will make that transition. It's arguable, though, that they aren't nearly as unprepared as some people are making them out to be.
HBO is obviously making moves towards this transition, but the numbers probably just aren't there yet to justify taking the full plunge. It looks to me like they're hedging their bets. Netflix's biggest challenge is content, right? When the time comes, I don't think that's going to be a problem for HBO.
Or, maybe their C-levels are just bailing water on the old model. But I kinda doubt it.
and how I feel as a non US resident:
It's not a matter of cost or wait time. It's that torrent networks provide a better, faster, easier, more portable, and simpler experience than the legal way.
Recall this famous image: http://www.makeuseof.com/tech-fun/pirated-dvd-vs-legal-dvd/
People get too hung up on small points in this discussion -- "it'll be out in 3 weeks, that's not very long" or whatever -- and miss the larger picture. The larger picture is that there are a lot of unnecessary barriers between consumers and content they're willing to pay for.
Torrents are straightforward, they work right the first time, and they continue to work. Whereas some providers/distributors seem intent on processes that are slow, convoluted, annoying, frustrating, and that might eventually not even deliver the desired content (say, in the language of choice.)
Copyright violation is not "sin" like theft, respecting it depends entirely on actually making it work. If copyright is the only thing that actually stands in the way of that, it is being abused.
To paraphrase the author: The world doesn't OWE the copyright owners enforcement at any cost. If you can't distribute it under your 100% terms, you have the free-and-clear option of not publishing it at all.
Reality is still that HBO is simply taking away the incentive to purchase the product. Right or wrong, that's the end result. So do they want to continue complaining, or actually try to make more sales? (And I'm sure HBO is aware of the tradeoffs, and feels like protecting their current model is more important than a few more digital sales. That might be a correct assessment, for now.)
The parent is right that pirating content and not paying for it is not morally defensible if you believe that intellectual property has value.
You are correct that people often do immoral things. A refusal to believe that people often do things which violate their own moral code is a denial of fundamental human nature.
A smart distributor will say, "if we make barriers too high to easily own this content piracy rates will rise" while a smart pirate would say, "my actions are morally wrong but I don't care because it benefits me."
We all get value for free; life would be impossible if we didn't. So either you're like Andrew Joseph Galambos, who changed his name to not infringe on his father's, and who put a coin in a box every time he used the word "liberty" (to pay its supposed inventor, Thomas Paine), or your position is inconsistent and ad-hoc.
A pirate is no worse for a creator than someone who simply abstains from the content. So in my opinion, either the two are wrong or none of them is.
(Note to everyone else: ad-hominem trolls will be ignored)
Because I won't argue the point any more, but piracy is theft when people loose something.
I don't see anything wrong with the approach though. Noone's saying that people won't buy the series on netflix once it's finally available. Although we know how likely that is...
before torrents he'd just show up at some friend with hbo. Today people don't mingle irl, so he downloads.
People on 4Chan age group are found of watching streaming with chat on the side. It's pretty much the same shinding concept of yesterday.
I am a giant theif, I take so much revenue from companies all the time, I need someone to sue the shit out of me for the following (to teach me a lesson and put me in my place):
* I loan out my $1000 worth of rototillers to friends all the time, the manufacturers and rental agencies are losing piles of revenue from me.
* I let people use my truck, and/or help them move things regularly. That is dozens of car purchases or rentals
* I help my family and friends with computer issues and build them free websites occasionally -- dirty dirty hippy crap, poor companies are losing service calls all the time.
* I cook meals from my garden, and invite people over to eat with me, grocers and restauranteurs probably should lynch me for denying their revenue.
Stupid sharing and human kindness. Obviously we are just a bad, evil species.
I'm pretty sure he's in the group of more money then time these days.
As a subscriber, HBO has made it incredibly easy for me to watch HBO shows: I have access to virtually all of them online on demand.
HD Cable + HBO sub = $70/mo, $840 per year.
6 quality HD shows per year @ $35 each season on iTunes = $210.
Of course everyone is different, but I'm only watching 1-2 shows at a time every season, and for people like me, "just paying for HBO" would cost me 4x as much as I should be paying for the amount of content I'm consuming.
EDIT: Whoever down-voted me, could you at least explain why? As a consumer, I don't feel like subsidizing a bunch of content I won't even use. Yeah, I get that's their model, and as such I don't see their content. It's a pretty fair non-transaction.
Can most people subscribe to HBO? Or do you need to buy it along with lots of other stuff? If all people need to do is pay the subscription then I struggle to see what all the fuss is about.
In fairness to this thread that I just barged into and started shouting on (per usual): I have to concede that if you're one of the people that doesn't want to own a TV, it is annoying that HBO won't just let you pay for a subscription directly (that I know of). They could just sell access to HBO GO.
On the other hand, give them some time. HBO GO is very new.
Things may have changed, this was about five years ago.
However I suspect that since they are owned by Time Warner, it won't get any better. Big cable companies are actively trying to prevent themselves from becoming dumb pipes.
It's a shame that non-subscribers can't see all the programming, but we wouldn't have it at all if it wasn't for their business model. As good as HBO's programming is, it probably wouldn't be economically feasible if it had to be directly supported. There might be enough income from itunes to (barely) support breakout hits like GoT, but it's unlikely that all of the shows that led up to it would have earned enough money to stay on the air.
Cable companies may be evil, but HBO definitely needed them in order to start. They can't be expected to unwind the relationship on the promise of netflix streaming sales to come.
(Disclaimer: I love HBO and will watch anything they make)
Well, softcore pornography and violence is not that much different to Game of Thrones. ^^
(example pulled from google):
According to blog monitoring service blogs.yandex.ru, Game of Thrones is third most discussed TV series in Russian speaking countries right now.
Obviously a huge number of people watch it from various of sources: original torrents, translated torrents, streaming... But HBO gets exactly zero from this.
They just don't want anybody's money. They do nothing.
While you're busy fighting for power and wealth, somebody is eating your lunch at the same time.
Instead of fighting for the share of wealth, you should perhaps figure out a way of making more wealth or at least preserving it.
If they don't pull their heads out though, that number will continue to increase. It's not as if piracy involves a great deal of mental capacity or even difficulty.
That is infinitely easier for most of the population than downloading a torrent; it takes at most 4 button presses. If your TV is too old to handle the new content protection scheme, buy a new TV. If you can afford HBO, you can afford a new TV.
The type of people who would prefer to download the show via torrent are generally the type of people who wouldn't pay for HBO to begin with, so HBO doesn't care about the mythical money to be made off them.
Yeah, except for 2 not being an option for about 95% of the planet.
Thankfully torrents are an equal-opportunity distribution channel I guess.
And the nonsence about if you can afford x, you can afford y. No, that is not a given. I can afford one luxury and just because your priority would be given to luxury A does not mean that I give A the same priority.
Anyway it is a moot point. HBO is not available outside the states.
1. I refuse to pay for premium Comcast at 2x the price of my very nice Internet connection just to get one channel.
2. I am very happy to pay $8/mo to Netflix.
3. I'm also very happy to buy LOTS of physical media; I own over 600 titles on DVD or Blu-Ray, and counting. Many of these titles, I have bought two, three, or even four times in different contexts (DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes, etc.)
4. I'm also happy to pay for all of HBO, even though I don't really want to watch all of HBO.
I just don't want to give money to my local cable monopoly, a lot of money, when I only want about 3% of the content they insist on bundling together.
I really don't think I'm the bad guy here.
HBO's latest shows are not available anywhere but over the air on HBO. e.g. Game of Thrones Season 2 cannot be watched on Netflix or purchased on iTunes. Those who run HBO probably think of this as being good, since it forces people to subscribe to HBO. Unfortunately, people who have gotten rid of their cable subscription aren't going to get it back just so they can watch HBO's latest shows as they air. They might intend to wait until those shows become available on iTunes or Bluray, but it's also highly probable that they'll give in to temptation and just download them from pirates.
This is HBO's real problem. There is a big market for their shows that only the pirates are serving.
So while I empathize with all of your complaints that HBO makes it too hard for non cable/DirecTV subscribers to subscribe, I think they are due credit for putting all of their content online when most other channels have not.
Really?! Can you watch ``Tales from the Crypt'' or ``The Kids in the Hall''?
Can you really watch _every_ episode of _every_ HBO show in the following list?
Many folks (techdirt included) argue that piracy is just marketing. For instance, it allows HBO to reach an audience they wouldn't reach otherwise. They even speculate that the Game of Thrones ratings bump was due to piracy. While that may (or may not) be true, in most industries, companies control when, where and much to spend on marketing.
For HBO (or any content provider) all these decisions come down to economics and how they can maximize their profits. In this new case (adding HDCP to their streams) they probably judged that the number of customer's they'd loose was pretty small and making the change would allow them to further their strategic goals.
How does that help them, though? Anyone who provides an unencrypted copy has infringed on their copyright, so HBO can go after them on those ground whether or not they also violated the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. It seems to me this would only be useful if they think they can actually prevent people from circumventing their DRM.
I don't think that's true.
My understanding is that HDCP encryption has been around for as long as HDMI has been around. For example, Blu-ray discs/players use HDCP to encrypt their content.
It seems strange that these DVR boxes don't support HDCP. Maybe some of the heat should be directed towards DirecTV for using such non-compliant hardware.
They don't "understand" the internet, just like TV channels of old didn't understand that not everybody was into Dukes of Hazzard and The Andy Griffith Show re-runs.
A Creative Commons licence (CC-NC-BY-ND (non-commerical, attribution required, no derivatives)) might be better.
Content providers need to be smacked around by someone like Netflix in a big way.
The second is that they aren't losing money, just not gaining it.
I suspect they are betting on the second perspective. Foolish, but seems to be there business plan.
If you're just trying to contribute back to those who made the content you're enjoying, just get the DVD regardless of if it's the right language or subtitles or region, and then merrily torrent away know that you've at least done the right thing on a moral basis.
I don't like that I can't just buy a subscription to HBO Go (I recently dumped cable) or buy HBO shows on iTunes the day after they air, but there are lots of revenue-related reasons why HBO is restricting access to its content.
Really?! How dare they!
It's just that I really have no time for this entitled attitude that content owners are obligated to sell their wares to us when we want, how we want, at the price point we want.
It's like a bum complaining it isn't enough when you give him your spare change.
edit: accidentally a word
I just take my business elsewhere. Monopolies are bad, right?
What I won't consider is a cable subscription, and lots of us feel that way. I don't want all those other channels. I just want HBO. Or better yet, just certain shows. I have money, they have content. Let's trade, yes? If not, torrenting episodes as they're aired is an attractive proposition while we're waiting for the season 2 DVDs to go on sale.
Because you can't, you know, just wait until they are legitimately available?
I could order a blu-ray, but then again it would be region protected!
If there is no way for me to pay them the damn money, how can it be if I'm a doing anything wrong by pressing "play" button and conveniently streaming it the same day it was aired? Brought to me by people who actually deliver.
EDIT: Before 1967 or so the copyright laws were built to explicitly combat this problem by NOT protecting foreign content with copyright by default. Then they believed the world went global and now they should. Guess what? In 2012 they failed to figure it out again so we should demand the roll-back to pre-1967 situation.
That's morally neutral. It is my basic human right to be morally neutral.
Now, copyright is not a basic human right.
So I'd argue they get no copyright unless they distribute.
And yes, that ought to extend to all intellectual property ever created. Imagine that suddenly anyone in Iran reading, watching or listening to american "intellectual property" becomes morally wrong because somebody in USA decieded to put an "intellectual property" embargo. Doesn't sound right, does it?
I've seen that argument when people pirate expensive software, saying "there's no way I could afford this, so it's morally neutral for me to use it without paying for it"
The thing is, if they actually put effort at making it available, the offers are usually okayish. The problem arises when they simply don't bother.
The publisher saw the high price as proof there was still a demand for the book and produced another printing. We paid full price for it, around 15 bucks, I think. It's a cute book, I'm glad I have it, I wouldn't have wanted to pay $300 for it, though.
One could make the case that if everyone could just "pirate" the book because it was financially unavailable, then the publisher would never bother doing a re-issue.
More broadly, I think that respecting copyright holders (and the rule of law) means that sometimes you don't get exactly what you want exactly when you want it.
But your win in wealth is real. You can't compare Maybe losses with real wealth gain. Real wins.
Secondary market brings the copyright holder nothing, so it's a bad example.
As has been said before, the "I deserve to have something RIGHT NOW" entitlement mentality is just infantile. If something is worth watching, it will still be worth watching in a few weeks/months.
You're going to tell us how we are infantile, how we feel entitled, how we are morally wrong in doing that we do.
By doing this you implicitly show yourself as being grown-up and morally superior. And how you can go without watching the tv series as it gets released.
And that's lame. That's unhumble. That screams "I want to tell the whole world how right I am". "My values - right. Your values - stupid" (c)
But I am sorry for my unhumble tone. Using words like "entitled" and "infantile" was counter-productive to a real discussion.
Our purpose, obviously, is increasing the amount of wealth available to each and every human being on the planet.
For that, we want HBO to exist and produce content.
We want people who consume that content to pay HBO to make sure it exists.
But that to do with people who want to consume the content but HBO behaves as if they didn't exist?
What about letting them watch the content for free? The upside is, they have more wealth, and the downside is, I struggle to figure out any.
As far as a business decision goes, HBO is making a choice that may or may not be the right business choice, but it is well within their rights. Maybe they will fail, maybe they will win big. Whatever.
How does that make consuming their product at those markets morally wrong?
they've made their choice to not engage certain markets
They've made the choice not to engage in that market at the moment, but as legal copyright holders, they have the ability to engage that market later. Having that market eroded by people getting the content for free might be counter-productive, as in "we're not going to release in Russia because everybody pirates everything" leads to "I'm going to pirate this because nobody releases anything in Russia".
Is it acceptable for someone in Region 2 to buy a Region 1 DVD?
Why is it different to buy grey market product (which may well require law breaking to be able to watch) than it is to torrent something and then buy it legally for my region?
If you were deliberately getting extra-cheap off-region content, I could see that as maybe a little ethically ambiguous.
As far as buying out-of-region content to get it sooner? I have a hard time seeing any problem with it. Maybe there's an angle I hadn't thought of.
Content providers think that buying from another region is "bad"; that's why they forced region controls onto DVD hardware producers. See ridiculous controls in some OSs restricting users to a certain number of region changes.
But thanks for not ranting!
It seems that HBO wants to squeeze the extra money out of impatient GoT fans by requiring that they buy the whole bundle if they want to watch anything without waiting a few months. There is extra value in getting it now, as other people have pointed out, because you can take part in discussions now while it's still part of the cultural zeitgeist.
Is it OK for HBO to require that you pay a premium for that extra value? My instinct says "yes", but I concede that it's a gray area. I also have a hard time calling fans "pirates" or "thieves" for torrenting ahead of making legitimate purchases.
thanks for not ranting
The world needs fewer rants. Thanks for not ranting back.
How dare the executives lose shareholder's money by refusing to allow new customers to pay for the content and so make profit.
Preferring instead to stick to cozy little cartels where they sell content only to the same cable stations that they used to work for, and will go back to when their bonuses clear.
Remember it's not 'their' company - the company belongs to my pension fund - 'they' are supposed to be working for me.
From the consumer side though, HBO has no obligation to do what a bunch of people on the internet who think they understand HBO's business better than HBO does think they should do.
They have no legal obligation. Currently, anyhow.
But you forget who makes the laws, and how the content gets delivered, and what people make this content out of.
Copyright is a temporary and limited monopoly granted by the people to encourage the production of intellectual property. The laws we have are an artifact of the economics and politics of their time. Information technology has radically changed both the economics and society's views. The laws will likely change as well.
HBO didn't invent dragons or kings or sex. They didn't create the Internet. They don't own the public airwaves or the public land over which the cables run. They don't own the fans. They didn't make the social media sites and bar tables where they get their word-of-mouth publicity.
HBO and all involved should be fairly compensated for their hard work and creativity. But the property rights you treat as absolutes are just convenient fictions we created together. People shouldn't feel entitled to the Game of Thrones. But neither should Time Warner executives feel entitled to use the public courts and police to ruin people's lives for sharing things they like.
We're living in the greatest revolution in information production and distribution since Gutenberg. Things will change.
True - but any company that refuses to listen to existing and potential customers has to raise concerns.
unless you are Apple of course and then you can do what you want ;-)
I don't know if I am a shareholder. But most shares are held by pension funds so when the boss of a company like RIM/Nokia/Sony do something stupid it's not the CEO that suffers.