Has HBO been the primary reason you've stayed tethered to your cable TV subscription? If you're a Comcast subscriber, you may now have another option.
On its website, Comcast is quietly promoting a new "Internet Plus" package for its broadband customers that will bundle Internet, a limited number of basic TV channels, plus HBO/HBO Go, for $40 or $50 per month, depending on region. The promotional pricing will last for 12 months; after that, according to DSL Reports, which first reported the bundle, the price jumps $20 per month (to $60 to $70) for six months before climbing to $70 to $80 a month, unless you can negotiate a better deal.
For that monthly charge, subscribers get 25 Mbps broadband service, about 20 basic TV channels—including local stations—Comcast's on-demand channels, plus HBO and HBO Go, its mobile app. The package also includes Streampix, Comcast's Netflix-like streaming movie and TV service that is normally a $5 per month add-on.
As another website, GigaOm, points out, Comcast is already promoting the offer on its website.
The Internet Plus package is interesting to us for several reasons. One is whether it's an indication of a new willingness by HBO to allow the popular premium channel to become an à la carte broadband offering decoupled from a conventional cable package, something it's so far been reluctant to do. Several years ago the company, via its HBO Go app, made HBO available for viewing on computers and mobile devices, but it requires you to authenticate that HBO is part of your TV service package.
Also, the move comes at a time when Netflix has been reaching out to TV service providers to include its streaming service as an add-on to traditional cable TV packages. There have also been reports that cable companies may start offering a wider variety of tiered programming packages, if not outright unbundled programming, and that there may be online-base TV services from several new entrants, including Intel. We'll be monitoring all these developments, so keep checking back for the latest news.
—James K. Willcox
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