Why would they? HBO and Sling have pretty much nothing to do with each other. HBO has a lot to lose if they allow one month subscriptions. Sling's entire business model is built around no contracts. HBO as pointed out here has a huge back catalog that people can binge watch then say see ya until next year. Sling has no such option and no plans to offer it. Sling is a program reseller and HBO for the most part is a content developer.
You do make an interesting point. When I first heard of the Sling service I wasn’t really impressed with what the service offers. Basically Sling is Dish Network’s attempt to transition from being a traditional satellite service provider to offering similar service via the OTT realm. Although I have said numerous times on this forum that it was only a matter of time before a service provider attempted to launch an OTT service direct to consumer, I don’t know if what Dish Network is attempting will necessarily prove to be successful.
As far as HBO, from what I understand from reading a few articles on the subject the HBO Now service will differ significantly from the current HBO Go service. I think the fact that they partnered with MLBAM shows that this will be something different than HBO Go. I assume based on MLBAM’s involvement that live feeds of the HBO networks will be included, otherwise the network could have simply rebranded its current HBO Go service and removed the requirement of needing a participating service provider in order to access the service. They wouldn't need MLBAM involved if that were the network’s sole intention.
I am not sure whether or not the network making this new service a month-to-month service with no commitment would necessarily be a negative. If you look at what the service providers offer for the bundles of channels of premium networks, they are priced significantly higher than what HBO will be charging going direct to consumer. The reason the service providers offer these bundles, particularly to new customers with such sales pitches as “Order Now and receive HBO and Cinemax free for three months” is an attempt to lock those customers into using the service for a certain period of time. What the service providers don’t tell consumers is that once that trial period has run its course, if you do not subscribe to a premium package, those channels are priced from anywhere from around $35 and up.
The revenue split model, which the cable/satellite industry operates under only nets a content provider such as HBO with essentially near or exactly what HBO will be charging for its new service going direct to consumer. I really think especially seeing as HBO cited the success that WWE has had with its service, during the network’s announcement of this forthcoming service that they might be following the model that WWE is using.
One of the criticisms that WWE has faced with its network was the original subscription plan of requiring a six-month commitment. Although a six-month commitment to WWE network at $9.99 a month amounts to essentially one WWE pay-per-view event on cable/satellite, there was confusion among consumers who did not understand that all the six-month commitment was, was you would be charged $9.99 a month for six months.
During WWE’s third-quarter earnings report several months ago they announced that they were discontinuing the six-month commitment subscription plan and going to a month-to-month subscription plan allowing subscribers to opt out when they wish and also allow the ability for those who opt out to re subscribe if they wish.
This along with the international expansion of WWE’s network has proven to be a positive for that company. Although HBO is not comparable to WWE in that HBO is a general entertainment/premium network that appeals to several different demographics, and WWE is a niche product, I believe that if HBO is following what WWE is doing, they will not incur too much of a loss from subscribers who will pick and choose which months they want to subscribe as HBO is constantly running not only movies, but also original programming as well as live event specials and sporting events. I believe that there will be enough content to keep people interested in HBO’s service and that will result in a good baseline of long-term subscribers.
As for me, I have been very critical of HBO over the years in regard to certain aspects relating to the sport that I cover, but in this instance I believe they are heading in the right direction and I will give them credit where it is due. With CBS/Showtime also having a similar service in the works, I believe that this is going to continue to change the landscape of how consumers consume television.
I do know that there were those both prior to and during the first couple months of WWE’s network service who thought I was crazy and was full of wishful thinking for saying that what WWE was doing was going to be a game changer in the industry. Although WWE’s network is still in its growing stages, the fact that the company almost doubled its total yearly revenue as compared to the previous year, especially considering that the company has invested significant money to launch their network and are in a period of transition, shows that they are heading in the right direction.
It will be interesting to see if the cable/satellite service providers attempt to retaliate against HBO and CBS/Showtime as they did when WWE launched their network. It backfired on the service providers when they tried to tell consumers that they wanted to carry WWE’s special events, but the company was unwilling to adjust the price for those shows and they (the service providers) didn’t want to pass down this “unjust” cost down to their subscribers. It was outright dishonest and had no real effect on WWE’s earnings. If anything, the service providers backhanded attempt at retaliating probably accelerated WWE’s subscriber base.
I think a lot of people would subscribe to HBO’s service if the service provides consumers the same content and more for $15 rather than pay the higher prices of the service providers. It is going to be interesting no doubt.