The first story is in the US. As I was mucking around provisioning my new car's hard drive with my eclectic music collection earlier this week, my son stumbled upon an old time favorite and I was elated to witness his discovery of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing". As we were happily singing I want my.... I want my MTV, I was reminded of a post I wrote two years ago, musing about when HBO would be able to go direct to customer in North America.
It seems my question was answered this week, with Comcast launching a new plan for cord-cutters and cord-nevers, offering Xfinity Streampix, HBO and HBO Go together with broadband for $39.99. A US Comcast customer will be able to watch HBO over the web on their broadband subscription without having to be a cable customer. The FCC (US regulators) mandates that premium channels have to be bundled with basic broadcast, so that's in it as well, but this is a clear tipping point moment. For the first time HBO is going head to head with Netflix, going pure OTT. As I am moving to my new house next month, This had me rethink my TV strategy and I am certainly going to wait and see what trickle downs in Canada. Increasingly, I am thinking of upping my broadband subscription and shaving as much as I can if not cutting outright my Cable / Satellite subscription.
The implications are profound and it is a floodgate moment. On one hand, Netflix has now more subscribers than HBO, which prompts Comcast to start the self cannibalization. If you are loosing subscribers, you might as well loose them to yourself and a friendly content provider rather than a competitor.
You will read about the second story tomorrow.