Not exactly shocking, but Showtime is pulling a HBO and launching a standalone subscription service. Before you rush to download and enter your credit card, the service is slated sometime in the ‘not-too-distant-future.’ So sooner, rather than later.

HBO is decidedly the pioneer in this move. HBO Now is launching in April in partnership with Apple. Before you snap up for torches and pitchforks, the HBO Now launch is an initial exclusive. Marketing speak for ‘this looks really good at our Apple event,’ but the there’s no way in hell HBO remains hardware exclusive. Apple would have to break the bank for that.

CBS, parent of Showtime, announced the service at the Deutsche Bank Securities 2015 Media, Internet and Telecom conference (they should unbundle that name). CEO Les Moonves did the honors.

“Clearly the bundle is changing. The days of the 500-channel universe are over,” he said during the conference. “The days of the 150-channel universe in the home are not necessarily over but they’re changing rapidly. People are slicing it and dicing it in different ways.”

That’s the politest way big business will ever say they will get your money one way or another.

Moonves is applauding HBO’s move with HBO Now, and said the company has their own premium content to get consumers to buy into. “The content we have at Showtime is also premium,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s any way, shape, or form for anybody to look at [the launch of HBO Now] other than as a major positive for premium cable.”

The Rise and Pitfalls of Cable Cutting

It’s undoubtedly en vogue. Let’s stick it to the big cable companies and pay for what you want to watch. I used to be one of those championing the move away from traditional cable. Yeah, looking at you Comcast.

Here are some issues that are quickly popping up.

1 – Cost. This may have you scratching your head but let’s add it up. Hulu/Netflix plus HBO Now. There’s $50 per month. HBO Now is priced at $14.99. It’s not a stretch to see Showtime being the same price, so if you like their shows, there’s another $15. Now, what if channels like AMC, A&E and FX want standalone services? Before you know it, you are whipping past $100 a month. Tack on Internet with bandwidth caps and you’re paying more than your current cable bill.

hulu cord cutting

2 – Show diversity. While dealing with your cable company can be infuriating, the package deal allows for diversity. They gather all the customers, and channels can start to experiment with shows. In a standalone environment, would we get shows like Game of Thrones?

Most would say yes, but if HBO is dependent on standalone revenue, it’s hard to see them straying from tested formulas.

What do you think? I can see where people want a choice, but looking at the pricing, it seems the corporations are offering the illusion of choice for the guarantee of additional profits.


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