The pressure to be caught up on the overflow of incredible content on television is overwhelming. If you publicly admit that you’re a few seasons behind on Game of Thrones or that you’ve actually never seen Girls, you run the risk of the abusive “How Can You Not Have Seen It” shaming from people who apparently have no work or time constraints.
One of the reasons I blithely excused myself from said pressure is because I don’t have cable. I cut the cord years ago because I refuse to subsidize the bloated payouts to sports entities (the reason mere basic cable is so ridiculously overpriced). Since then, my workaround has been a digital antenna and a combination of Netflix, Hulu Plus and iTunes Season Passes, all via Apple TV. At the end of a year, the total cost of my internet and a la carte services for content I actually want is still considerably lower than twelve months of basic cable.
When HBO announced its plans to make its service available to anyone with an internet connection without the burden of a cable subscription for $15/month, I and legions of others sighed in relief and gratitude. That free-standing service, called HBO NOW, launched in the first week of April, offering a 30-day free trial. I took the plunge.
Over the last month, I’ve caught up on several HBO originals I now love: Veep (genius), Game of Thrones (still catching up and loving it), The Wire (everything they say it is), True Detective (you gotta be fuckin’ kidding me brilliant), The Comeback (dark, sad and amazing), Girls (delightful)… HBO Documentaries? Don’t get me started. The Jinx, Going Clear, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck… Movies? Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past, 12 Years a Slave, Behind the Candelabra, Best In Show, Citizen Four… And so much more, including the fabulous HBO comedy specials.
When HBO GO launched a few years ago, I’ll confess that I dabbled in a little pirating with a friend’s Time Warner Cable username and password. But to be honest, my discomfort with freeloading forced me to give it up after a few weeks. As a happy subscriber to Netflix, Hulu Plus and Spotify Premium, I’m happy to pay for good content that I actually want. When HBO offered an honest way for cord-cutter to enjoy their award-winning content, I was willing (though I do wish it were $10/month and not $15).
HBO was a groundbreaking game changer in the world of great must-see original programming on cable channels, starting with Oz and continuing with The Sopranos and Sex and the City, of which I am a proud alumnus. HBO is a goldmine of great stuff, both high-brow and low. My suspicion (and hope) is that this formula will take off, opening the gates for more cable networks to disrupt the dysfunctional, price-gouging relationships with cable providers and to independently expand their own revenue streams.
I’m loving HBO NOW. My free 30-day trial is over and I’m gladly renewing.