Print 23 comment(s) - last by Freakie.. on Oct 27 at 11:40 PM

Comcast steps closer to unbundling HBO

Cable television network HBO is locked in a battle with other pay television channels and internet streaming companies like Netflix. HBO has its own streaming offering called HBO Go, but it's not available as a standalone product. The only way to get HBO Go is to subscribe to HBO via a participating cable or satellite television provider.
The big problem, however, is that many people don't want to subscribe to cable when all they really want is HBO content.

Comcast is coming to the rescue with a new internet plan called “Internet Plus” that will give consumers access to HBO and local television channels without having to subscribe to cable. The plan gives access to HBO, local channels, plus video on demand along with a 25 Mbps broadband connection.

The service is offered on a 12-month plan for about $40 per month. After the promotional period, the price will reportedly increases the price as high as $80. The good news is there are no long-term contracts required so if the price goes up more than you want to spend you can always cancel.

HBO and cable providers need to do something to stay on level footing with Netflix. Netflix recently hit the 30 million subscriber mark according to estimates potentially putting it ahead of HBO in the U.S. for subscriber numbers.

Source: DSLR Reports

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LOL What a joke
By MrBlastman on 10/25/2013 11:16:53 AM , Rating: 5
So my story with Comcast is quite a long one, but here goes...

I first got a cablemodem with them a decade ago and was paying 65 bucks a month. I eventually figured out I could get the basic channels for free by just plugging my TV in. That was swell for the time.

Eventually they disabled that and gave us an option to get basic cable for 25 bucks a month on top of the 65. Okay, that was bearable. Then my daughter was born and had a life-threatening condition we had to contend with for many months. As a result, we upgraded to their digital voice phone service. That cost us another 20 bucks a month. Reasonable, right?

It was for a while. Then all of a sudden, our combined plan went from 110/month to 146/month overnight. Their reasoning? Cost of service increases. After threatening to leave they lowered it back down. This happened three different times.

Eventually, they raised it to over 150/month and we had enough. See, the problem with Cable these days is there is... nothing on it. All there is basically to watch are reality shows and more... reality shows--boring stuff that add no value to your expanding mind whatsoever. So we cancelled both the phone and cable completely but kept the internet.

We then went out and bought a digital converter and antenna (we didn't have a smart TV at the time) and hooked that up to the television. We simultaneously bought a magic jack plus and pay 30 bucks a year for phone service. The phone service is basically just as good as what we had before. We're just paying way less. As for television... we only watched an hour or less a day aside from my daughter who watches PBS kids so do we miss anything? Not at all. We have over 60 local channels over the air so there's always a large assortment of nothing to choose from. Oh, and the best part? There is hardly ANY reality programming on the local channels! Not that it matters anyways, we mostly watch the four PBS channels.

So here is where it gets interesting and relevant to the article. A few months later Comcast calls begging us to come back. They try and offer us a "deal" ... 95 bucks a month. I told them... no. Bye. A few months after that... 90 bucks. I said no again. About six months after that... 85 bucks! I told them I'd think about it but never said yes. Six months go by again and this time they lower it to ... 80 bucks for just cable + faster internet + HBO for a year. I asked them what cable channels. They said... the local basic ones.

Hmm. The local basic ones. The ones I already get. But, faster internet AND HBO--HBO that we probably won't watch, might I add. So I told them... sorry, no.

That alone doesn't seem particularly interesting. However... it gets better. I ended up staying at my Mom's house for a month due to a nasty flea invasion. Fleas are evil. Don't ask--it has been an awful problem in southern states this year. I fiddled with her cable and ended up setting her smart TV to use both Comcast's box and digital channels in addition to the local channels through a secondary input independent of their box. Well, guess what? The local channels looked BETTER without Comcast's digital junk box than with. Comcast told me they would charge me an extra 10 bucks a month to get HD support for the local channels.

I get all my local channels in HD (that broadcast in it) for free!

And now, Comcast goes and pulls this. The same crap deal they gave me a month ago for now... half the price!!!! The longer I wait, the more desperate they get! The best part is I'm not missing anything by saving all this money. Finally, though, the 40 buck a month deal beats handily what I am paying just for internet alone with them. I might finally be compelled to give in. For a year. Then the stupid games begin again.

I hate Comcast.

RE: LOL What a joke
By CaedenV on 10/25/2013 11:53:27 AM , Rating: 2
Completely agree!
I was fortunate enough (though I did not feel like it at the time) to grow up on a street without cable... well, there was cable, but the cable company did not realize it and refused to sell it to us even though our neighbors at the top of the hill had cable service.

But anywho, point is that I grew up in an area without cable, with only 3 OTA channels (which is 2 now after they went digital). So we had internet (via dialup), video games, and movies. Pretty much 0 commercials ever. Now as an adult with kids of my own I am dead set against getting any kind of TV. If there is a good show on TV then it will be on the station website. If there is a good show on cable, it will come out on bluray once the season is over. If we want to catch a game then we watch it at our neighbor's house because they are sports nuts and are fun to hang out with.

It is a sacrifice of not watching shows in 'real time' most of the time. But then again our schedules are so chaotic that we would never catch a show when it aired anyways. But the advantages are awesome! We get next to 0 commercials. If there is a great show then we can watch several episodes in a row without interruption so that we do not forget important details. Most shows on ABC/NBC/FOX/ETC are free with limited commercials (most of which AdBlock blocks), and when we purchase a DVD or BluRay of a show then we have the option to sell it after we are done and get the bulk of our money back.
Then there is Netflix and Amazon Prime to fill in the gaps for content that is harder to find, but not worth bothering buying the discs for.

It really is the way to go

RE: LOL What a joke
By Flunk on 10/25/13, Rating: -1
RE: LOL What a joke
By MrBlastman on 10/25/2013 12:13:51 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not upset about them closing that loophole years ago. Not at all. I accepted that at the time and went from there. If you read my whole point you'd get that it wasn't until after many years of price increases and fighting with them I grew fed up and left.

Oh, and I was never stealing cable to begin with. If I PAY for internet via cable and am able to watch stuff on that same cable, then what am I taking? I'm just using what they are feeding me through the pipe. At the time, they were feeding it. Eventually, they cut it off. At that time I started paying.

Now, if I had STILL figured out a way to get what they cut off, well, then that would be stealing. I never did that. I ate what I was fed till the hand said pay it... and then I did.

Besides, if all you got out of my post was I was upset about them taking away my way to get free channels then you completely missed the point.

RE: LOL What a joke
By JDHammer on 10/25/2013 12:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well, what did you expect from comcrap? =P

Switching to Verizon was the best thing I did and i've got no regrets.

But why need TV when all ya got is the internet and MWO? ;-)

RE: LOL What a joke
By MrBlastman on 10/25/2013 2:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
But why need TV when all ya got is the internet and MWO? ;-)

Exactly! ;) :)

I get to smash robits all night long with my pee pee cees and lasers. If I don't like someone on the other side... I get to make them go boom!

Interactive fun ftw!

RE: LOL What a joke
By Freakie on 10/27/2013 11:30:10 PM , Rating: 1
I actually love Verizon. They've been offering 50Mbps download, 20Mbps upload for 6 months now, and for the year before that it was 30 down and 15 up, which also includes basic cable all for $40 a month (and when we signed up, we got 3 months of HBO for free). Price went up to $60 after 6 months, $80 after that. But one the great thing about Comcast is that their sales people are just fine with giving existing customers those "promotion" prices and are easy to haggle with, the other great thing is that none of these prices are contract, unlike Verizon and AT&T who have a promotional starting price but lock you in a contract and that promotional price only lasts half the length of your contract. We started at the 30/15 plan, got a free permanent upgrade to 50/20, and got a free 3 month upgrade to 110/20. Currently pay $60 but get speeds that AT&T and Verizon cannot even hope to touch at that price (plus still have free basic cable).

Another great thing about Comcast is that they don't bat an eye if you use your own equipment/modem, and their online ordering system lets you chose that as an option. They also don't charge any installation fees, they just mailed us the TV box, and they have an online system to register your modem's MAC with them so you don't even need to talk to a rep. So no monthly payment for TV box or modem and I can use devices with the features and tools that I want without anything being locked down (for advanced networking setups with my router and custom router firmware). Also got a great deal on my modem on Craigslist, does both RJ-11 and RJ-45 and has a 6 hour backup battery... for $35. I literally could not be happier with any other company for only $60 a month. (coming from AT&T and TimeWarner, of the two TimeWarner was better price wise but service was the least reliable)

RE: LOL What a joke
By Freakie on 10/27/2013 11:40:59 PM , Rating: 1
Errr, I actually love Comcast, not Verizon, hah... Started off with I actually don't like Verizon but switched and yeah... heh...

RE: LOL What a joke
By mindless1 on 10/26/2013 4:06:02 PM , Rating: 2
They were never really offering that loophole, technicians were supposed to put a filter on your line that blocked the CATV frequencies.

While I don't have an opinion on the morality of watching something already on your cable line, it is considered stealing service because they were not offering it "free", rather specifically for pay. That's the law, not my opinion, though for them to successfully prosecute they'd probably have to produce proof they had caught you and instructed you not to do it.

RE: LOL What a joke
By Spuke on 10/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: LOL What a joke
By MrBlastman on 10/25/2013 12:19:08 PM , Rating: 3
But that's the hilarity of it all. This ISN'T their first step. This is like step 15 of trying to figure out how to game their customers. What they are betting on is people forget after a year about their cable bill--and then jack the rate up 15/month over what they would have been paying... and then profit.

Comcast is a game--a casino. You play their game but the house always figures out a way to win.

This time around, though, I might throw a wager on the table. If I take them up on the 40/month hand well, I might hold the cards in my pocket but I'll never play them. They can give me HBO/basic but I highly doubt I'll ever hook the set-top box up to my smart TV that has Netflix on it. It has so many features on it as it is that I gain little benefit using Comcast's clunky interface. But, at least I'll be saving 25/month for a while. That's a cheap weekend activity or night out with the wife and kid once a month. A total win there.

Just make sure you mark your calendar for the expiration of the 12-month period.

RE: LOL What a joke
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/25/2013 12:35:08 PM , Rating: 1
Pay attention....

The service is offered on a 12-month plan for about $40 per month. After the promotional period, the price will reportedly increases the price as high as $80.
It's called a, wait for it, PROMO....

RE: LOL What a joke
By MrBlastman on 10/25/2013 2:12:53 PM , Rating: 4
No crap. Of course I know it is a promo. What stinks is having to play the game repeatedly and at the same time, never knowing the true future costs (and current) for anything as Comcast does its best to obfuscate everything to sucker you in.

By cancelling cable completely I win all the time because my cost to watch over the air is zero.

That 80.00 target is just a potential number. Comcast more than likely will figure out a way to make it higher... much higher. So if I play the game (and I probably will) I'll have to mark it on the calendar like I said previously.

What if I wait another month or two? Comcast keeps dropping the promo price each time... This deal is just so low I don't see them taking a bigger loss.

RE: LOL What a joke
By Spuke on 10/25/2013 5:26:10 PM , Rating: 1
I see what you're saying. I do think that even at $80, it's still a good deal.

RE: LOL What a joke
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/25/2013 12:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
It was for a while. Then all of a sudden, our combined plan went from 110/month to 146/month overnight. Their reasoning? Cost of service increases. After threatening to leave they lowered it back down. This happened three different times.
Just like every other company does....

RE: LOL What a joke
By dgingerich on 10/25/2013 1:27:46 PM , Rating: 2
I agree Comcast is a bunch of cheats, but this deal doesn't sound too bad, really.

I have dealt with Comcast for the last decade as well, and AT&T Broadband and TCI before the mergers. With TCI, I had telephone, cable, and internet for $80/month. AT&T Broadband came in a took over, and I got the same thing for the same price, in addition to free long distance. Then Comcast came along and bought out AT&T broadband.

At first, my bill went up to $113/month for the same services about 4 months after the merger went through. I had also gained a cell phone in that time, so I decided to drop the phone service. My bill went back down to $85/month. Annoying, but not too terrible.

Over the next five years, I played a nice little game with them where they'd spike my bill, I'd drop cable for a couple months, and then pick up another promo deal. Then I switched to satellite and got TV for cheaper for a few years. My total bill of satellite, cable internet, and phone never exceeded $150/month.

Then I moved to a new apartment where satellite TV wasn't available. My roommate had to have TV, and HBO. I had to go with Comcast, with no other choices available. At first, I got a package, where cable on its own cost me $109/month. After 6 months, it went up to $157/month, for one TV, DVR, and HD programming. Really costly.

After a year, my roommate moved out, and I was stuck with the whole bill. After a few months of that, I finally cut the cord and canceled cable entirely. My favorite shows were nearly all available on Hulu, so the only reason I had cable was for Doctor Who. I decided getting it from Amazon Prime would be better than paying for cable.

After a few months, Comcast inevitably called and offered me a deal: my same internet (which is still running $70 for 50Mb) with digital cable, DVR, and HD for $100/month. I said OK, I'll give it a try. They said my DVR would arrive in the mail in a few days. A month later, my bill goes up, but no cable box. I called their customer service, and after 6 hours of bouncing around between CS reps, supervisors, and sales, they informed me I had only signed up for digital cable, no DVR or HD, and I was supposed ot provide my own box. I said "no way" and cancelled back to just internet again.

In short, they aren't just financially raping us, they're now cheating (false advertising, bait and switch) in their ways of doing it.

Now, as far as this deal goes, even the after promo price sounds pretty good. I'm just interested in the HBO content, and my internet is already $70/month. It might be half the speed of what I get, but I haven't been using that for quite a while. I may try it out. Basically, it's HBOGO for $10/month. That sounds good to me, if they aren't using their bait and switch tactics again.

RE: LOL What a joke
By inperfectdarkness on 10/26/2013 4:13:05 AM , Rating: 3
I'm sorry. $80/month is still completely unreasonable. If HBO wants my money, they're going to have to play ball with Netflix or find a way to deliver content to the consumer without the cable middle-man getting fat off the proceeds.

The worst thing about television in the USA is that it's essentially communism at work. There are a TON of worthless channels all clinging to life--thanks to the few GOOD channels that get "bundled" together. The best thing that could ever happen to TV is for each and every SHOW to be placed on equal footing--i.e. no channels at all. That's a long way off though (at least for 1st run shows). If we could force each channel to a separate charge--and each had to stand up on the merits of its own programming...that would be a fantastic start.

People who want to pay $10/month for each ESPN channel will do so. People who want to pay $.35/month for Spike will do so. And Oxygen and Lifetime will finally die off.

RE: LOL What a joke
By mindless1 on 10/26/2013 4:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
Oxygen and Lifetime will never die off. There are too many emotionally trainwrecked women in the world to keep them afloat.

uh, great?
By EasyC on 10/25/2013 10:40:26 AM , Rating: 3
Good job, now offer a la carte for all channels. I don't want your stupid super cable pack plus just to watch sports.


RE: uh, great?
By Arsynic on 10/25/2013 11:00:22 AM , Rating: 2
Seconded. However, it's not their fault. They are only passing down the same bundles that the content providers give them. They can't help if Viacom wants to subsidize 20 shitty, niche channels with 5 good ones or Disney who needs to create 10 of the same channels that replay the same shit over and over again instead of creating one or two with varied programming.

Then when confronted with this absolutely anti-consumer policy, the content providers start throwing out terms like "discrimination" since niche channels like BET and the LGBT Networks won't survive in an a la carte ecosystem.

If they can't survive on their own, then they shouldn't exist. But then again, I guess I'm a bigot.

RE: uh, great?
By LRonaldHubbs on 10/25/13, Rating: 0
A big Nope
By Ammohunt on 10/25/2013 2:18:14 PM , Rating: 3
Never again will a cable company get my money. You want to sell me HBO? sell it to me via a reasonable monthly fee or go home.

This isn't new
By jharper12 on 10/26/2013 4:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
I've had the plus pack bundle for about nine months now. I went and cancelled my cable subscription a while back, funny story, when I subscribed I was given faster internet for taking basic cable for $5 extra per month. I jumped on that, but took on a roommate six months later who finally unboxed my cable box and discovered it did not work. When my cable modem died, I brought my full set of broken hardware back to cancel my service, deciding to just use a Clear hotspot. That's when they offered me basic cable + HBO and 50 Mbps internet for $39.99 a month for the first year and $59.99 a month for the second year. Love it. They may just be advertising this, but it has been around for a while now.

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