Variety‘s got the big news. For years, some customers have been saying that they’d like to buy stand-alone HBO, without having to subscribe to cable television first. Now, Comcast is becoming the first internet and television service provider to offer you a way to do that, testing a service called “Internet Plus” that packages internet access, broadcast television, and HBO:
The nation’s No. 1 cable operator confirmed that it has launched trial offer of “Internet Plus,” which includes broadcast TV, video-on-demand, HBO (and HBO Go) and 20- or 25-Mbps broadband. Subscribers also get access to Streampix, Comcast’s Netflix-style multiscreen VOD service.
The bundle is priced at $39.99 or $49.99 for 12 months (depending on market), far less than what Comcast’s expanded basic cable packages cost, and the price goes up to $69.99 or $79.99 after the first year. The offer is being promoted across Comcast’s footprint to new residential customers, but may not be available in certain areas.
If nothing else, this will be an interesting test of what consumers think HBO is worth. When the Take My Money, HBO campaign was active, it seemed like lots of tweeters were comfortable paying $10 or $15 for stand-alone HBO. This isn’t quite that–you’d have to be a Comcast customer, and pay more for the overall bundle. But do folks who previously only had internet decide that $40 or $50 for the overall package is worthwhile, even with a price hike to $70 or $80? If nothing else, HBO will get interesting data from both the initial subscriptions and the drop-off after the first year, about how consumers value their service. A purely stand-alone HBO is probably a long, long way away, but this could be a step towards pricing it if the cable and internet bundling model every falls apart completely.