Ben Drawbaugh, of Engadget HD, has decided HBO just isn’t worth $17/month. Ben’s something of a HD snob, which I characterize in the nicest way possible, and finds HBO “unwatchable” — preferring instead to rent or purchase higher quality Blu-ray discs. And has therefore cancelled his subscription.
By comparison, I’m much more tolerant of perhaps somewhat inferior audio/visual presentation… given sufficiently compelling content along with viewing flexibility. So I find HBO to be one of the best values in home entertainment, primarily due to HBO GO – which provides access to all of HBO’s original programming, think Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire, along with a small rotating selection of mainstream movies. HBO GO was originally streamed to mobile devices like the iPad or iPhone, but has branched out into television-connected devices making the service infinitely more compelling. First up was the Roku, with additional devices and improved quality right around the corner. And if you can’t wait, hack together your own mobile-to-hdtv solution. Although, even someone with my lower standards doesn’t find that sort of presentation watchable.
Unfortunately, HBO is less compelling for Comcast and DirecTV customers given their decision to prohibit HBO GO. Related, HBO GO is only available to cable or satellite TV customers — cord cutters need not apply. On one hand, HBO is about twice the cost of Netflix or Hulu streaming. But I’d argue we’re provided higher quality (“premium”) content available both on TV and online. On the other, Ben argues that for a dollar more his Netflix subscription includes both physical Blu-ray rentals plus online streaming.
So what’s HBO worth to you?