HBO Shutting the Door on Cord-Cutters?

Dec 02, 2011

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On Wednesday morning, HBO co-president Eric Kessler told a group of industry wonks that despite the success of digital offerings like HBO GO, it plans to remain true to its cable roots.

According to, Kessler said, "there is no chance his company will make shows like True Blood or The Wire available to digital non-subscribers." However, at last year's Streaming Media East conference, Kessler told the audience that the company wants to be on "every platform." Kessler, according to paidContent, also says, "HBO regards cord cutting as a temporary phenomenon that will go away once the larger economy improves. He also says that HBO will flourish under its current model thanks to its star power (its latest coup is getting The Social Network‘s Aaron Sorkin to pen a series) and because its partnership with cable companies allow it to avoid transaction costs like billing."

But what about cord-cutters willing to subscribe to HBO while still foregoing a traditional cable subscription? Even when I had cable I didn't subscribe to premium channels. I've been slowly catching up on shows like True Blood and The Wire via Netflix (which HBO considers to be a competitor). Granted, I'm way behind, but I'm patient, and while the rest of The Wire fans are lamenting the loss of their favorite show, I'm still wondering what happens in the fourth season.

Clearly not everyone is as patient as I am, and any internet savvy person knows that they can find a way to see premium content without paying for it. Surely HBO knows this as well. Leaving an entire segment of viewers on the table seems unwise (especially when True Blood's vampires are apparently cord-cutters). So, perhaps, Kessler is shutting the door on "digital non-subscribers" but there is still hope that HBO will open a window for "digital subscribers" willing to shell out for an a la carte subscription.