Students find HBO Go appealing but expensive

On Oct. 15, cord cutters everywhere rejoiced as premium cable giant HBO announced that starting in 2015 their HBO Go service, the online version of HBO, would be available without a cable subscription.

One of the reasons for jubilation is that HBO is home to many beloved shows, but until this announcement these programs were only available via a subscription to HBO’s premium cable package.  

HBO’s line of exclusive titles includes the hit shows such as the award-winning dramas “True Detective,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Sopranos,” comedies such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Veep” and “Girls” and unscripted programming like “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “Real Time With Bill Maher,” as well as the rotating selection of movies the company secures the rights to.

Rumors online have the service being priced at $15, which is more expensive than competitor Netflix’s streaming service.

The news of a stand-alone HBO streaming program has received mixed reception from college-age Mississippians. PJ Ladner, a graphic design student at The University of Southern Mississippi, uses his parents’ HBO subscription. The main shows he uses HBO Go for are “Game of Thrones”
and “Entourage.”

Ladner finds the rumored price to be acceptable for the programming offered, but would want to see technical improvements for such a price. “Whenever they have big premieres the servers tend to crash,” Ladner said. “If I were to pay $15 a month, the servers should never crash.”

Caleb Rowe of Jackson gets HBO Go as part of his cable package. He says that once he acquired the service, he used it to watch more shows than he originally intended. He views the $15 price point as steep, but said that it is worth it if you have the money. His biggest qualm with the service HBO Go provides is that the interface is not as user-friendly as its competitor Netflix. Rowe said that if HBO was not included in his cable package, he is unsure if he would use the standalone service.

Those without HBO Go seem a little more negative about the service, particularly the price point. Haley Buchanan, a senior business management major, said while the movies offered on HBO entice her, the rumored $15 price is too expensive for her, especially in comparison to Netflix. 

“The account offers great services, but a lower price is what would make it more appealing to me,” Buchanan said. “A price point closer to $10 would give more incentive for me to sign up for my own account.”

Budget woes are also what keeps USM graduate Shawn Chambliss from signing on to the program. While he wants to watch shows such as “Game of Thrones” and even thinks that the price point is fair, as a recent college graduate he is unable to budget the service into his monthly expenditures.

Despite the contention over rumored pricing, it is obvious that HBO programming and services are in high demand, and that consumers are awaiting the stand-alone version of HBO Go. The question going forward is will other premium and nonpremium cable services follow HBO’s lead?