Anyone who has experienced HBO GO knows that it’s probably one of the most awesome applications on the planet. Pretty much every HBO series ever made, every episode, and a ton of movies are all available on your laptop or smartphone…as long as you have a cable subscription. It’s the “cable subscription” thing that makes HBO GO drop from “100% Awesome” to much lower than that for those who don’t want to pay for cable. So web designer Jack Caputo set up a website asking those who might tweet it, “How much would you pay for HBO GO if you were able to do so?”
The Result? Looks Like $12 A Month
Caputo set up the site to get the attention of HBO, but he didn’t have a way of tracking the ballpark figure that was being tweeted. Here’s what the site looks like:
I was curious about what the average amount of money would be, so I wrote two small Python scripts that use the Twitter search API to retrieve the 1500 most recent tweets (the limits of the API) and analyze the average amount in those tweets.
There are limitations to this approach, since there are certainly more than 1500 tweets with this hashtag. I made the following decisions about how I handled the data:
- RTs were ignored, because I’m interested in each person’s personal opinion.
- I looked for the phrase ‘pay $’ in the tweet, and extracted the number following the ‘$’. If there was no number following, the tweet was ignored (e.g. some people tweeted statements like ‘I would pay $$$’.
- Money amounts >$50 were ignore, since some people tweeted statements like ‘I would pay $1000000’.
Currently the script only returns the average amount and the number of data points available of the 1500 downloaded (after RTs, etc are removed).
Wednesday 5:10AM GMT/UTC +0:00 – $12.06, from 1063 data points.
Wednesday 5:24AM GMT/UTC +0:00 – $12.30, from 1071 data points.
$12. It is said that HBO gets $7-8 per subscriber, of which there are 29 million of them. As Ryan Lawler at Techcrunch says:
So HBO could, theoretically, get more per subscriber than it’s currently making. But that doesn’t include the cost of infrastructure needed to support delivery of all those streams, including all the CDN delivery and other costs that would come with rolling out a broader online-only service.
More importantly, it wouldn’t include the cost of sales, marketing, and support — and this is where HBO would really get screwed. Going direct to online customers by pitching HBO GO over-the-top would mean losing the support of its cable, satellite, and IPTV distributors. And since the Comcasts and the Time Warner Cables of the world are the top marketing channel for premium networks like HBO, it would be nearly impossible for HBO to make up for the loss of the cable provider’s marketing team or promotions.
HBO did respond, in a way, on Twitter:
Love the love for HBO. Keep it up. For now,
@RyanLawler @TechCrunch has it right: http://itsh.bo/JLtSFE #takemymoneyHBO
As we’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t look like HBO wants to break, or risk fracturing, its relationship with cable anytime soon. Cable has been very good to HBO, and it looks like even if they were able to charge for their service successfully, they would lose out on all the marketing tools and reach of cable.
So it doesn’t look like it matters whether or not you would gladly pay for it, HBO probably makes way more in the long run by keeping HBO GO a cable subscription-only service.