HBO: no streaming for you, Netflix customer!

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So, HBO doesn’t want Netflix to stream its content. Why am I not surprised? Mostly because I believe that greed generally leads to exclusivity (even though laws of economics generally dictate that it’s not quite as profitable to squeeze every last dollar out of your customer, but rather find an optimal price, where demand and price meet nicely in the middle).

First of all, HBO has its own “HBO Go” ( which is available to those, who subscribed, plus with some ISP restrictions. Second – on iTunes True Blood seasons one and two are priced at $35. If they can sell it there (though I don’t understand who, in their right mind, would want to “rent” virtual version, if physical disks with first season available for about $25) there’s no reason for them to allow Netflix subscribers to watch it for free. Sure, they’d probably make some money off of people who would never buy DVD pack or shell out more than thirty bucks for one season, but it certainly would “cheapen” the brand.

Plus, people would be tempted not to subscribe for $15 a month, and just wait until shows appear on Netflix. It’s not that there’s much original content on HBO these days (even though there’s about 20 different channels, plus some on-demand channels too). A few critically acclaimed tv shows, and a number of “new movies” that are being rotated over and over and over. Add to it the fact that regular dvds are still available, there’s practically nothing for HBO to gain by allowing Netflix to stream them, and everything to loose.

Our only hope is that decline in paid tv service subscriptions will accelerate. That 700+ thousand subscription loss probably doesn’t worry HBO yet, but it should. Mostly not even because people are deciding to ditch cable and move to Hulu, Cable channel web-sites and paid services like Apple TV and/or Netflix streaming. It’s just that recession hasn’t finished yet, and people are cutting down on not-so-important things. And a $50 or so for cable (and even more if HBO is involved) certainly looks good enough to save, especially as a few over the air channels wouldn’t let people to completely forego TV.

But if the decline will continue, I have no doubt that HBO will start selling “digital subscription”, where you can have it even if you don’t have a cable. Of course it will piss off cable companies, and probably will move the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock Of Per Byte Billing (“Don’t want to buy cable service from us? Well each video-streaming byte will still make us reacher, A-HA-HA-HA!”). But if money becomes tight at HBO all bets will be off.

For now — I’ll wait. A single vampire show is certainly not enough for me to sign up for HBO. Especially as I’ve read all the books…

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