Sorry Sony, HBO’s Still Beholden to Cable

When content providers wade into digital distribution, there’s always a catch.

In the case of HBO bringing its hit shows to Sony’s Playstation 3 — starting with True Blood at a date unannounced – that catch is an 11-month delay between cable broadcast and console download. The $2.99 price tag also stings, considering that the Playstation Network’s other on-demand shows cost a dollar each. At least iTunes and Amazon get the same pricing.

Still, the irony is rich in Dow Jones’ report on the story. “Networks like HBO can be beholden to the cable and satellite companies, or they can play wherever the consumers play,” Sony Playstation chief executive Jack Tretton proclaims, as if to ignore the time-delay issue. If there was any doubt that HBO is protecting its relationship with subscription TV providers, HBO’s home entertainment president Henry McGee erases it: The 11-month lag, he explains, is meant to discourage people from dropping their cable and satellite packages.

Maybe that’ll work, but it won’t get me to sign up for cable again. A time-delayed content agreement is better than no content at all, and if I stick to three or four HBO series per year, the pricing works out in my favor. Through cable, HBO is $14 per month. Assuming three show downloads on PS3 with 15 episodes per season at $3, divide by 12 and the monthly cost is $11.25 per month. It’ll just take a little patience to get there.

Add HBO to the PS3′s existing video choices, which include Netflix, MLB.tv, on-demand video and the free legacy version of PlayOn, and the game console becomes a formidable cable alternative.

Just don’t tell HBO.

This story, "Sorry Sony, HBO’s Still Beholden to Cable" was originally published by Technologizer.

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