In the battle of competing online streaming services, HBO has been one of the big the holdouts. The premium channel has had enormous success with hit shows like Game of Thrones and True Detective. However, anyone who wanted to watch HBO's content via HBO Go, its online streaming service, had to own a HBO-enabled cable package - or borrow an account from a friend. This has frustrated the cord-cutting crowd for years. However, things are changing. Amazon recently added shows from HBO's back catalog to its $99/year Amazon Prime Video service. And now AT&T has teamed up with HBO an Amazon to offer a package that will let users access HBO Go without the burden of a big cable bill (for the first year, that is).
AT&T is offering access to this special U-verse Internet-only bundle for as low as $39 a month. The package gets customers a year's worth of Internet with an minimum 18-megabit download speed, a basic TV package via the U-verse TV platform, access to the HBO Go app, and a year's subscription to Amazon Prime. After the first year, users will play $59 a month for internet and HBO, unless the plan is canceled by the customer. New subscribers should note that they will have to pay a $49 Service Activation Fee, as well as a one-time equipment charge of $100 for AT&T's Internet Gateway.
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This is a significant shift for HBO, who have been resisting the market's request for a subscription-based HBO Go service for years. In the last few weeks, it seems that Jeff Bewkes, the CEO of HBO's parent company, Time Warner, is more open to the idea. CNET reported that Bewkes stated at a Goldman Sachs investing conference that he was more open to the potential of offering HBO Go straight to the consumer. "Up until now, it looked like the best opportunity was to focus on...HBO through the existing [pay-TV] affiliate system," said Bewkes. "The broadband-only opportunity up until now wasn't... at the point where it would be smart to move the focus from one to the other. Now the broadband opportunity is quite a bit bigger." Bewkes stated that Time Warner was "seriously considering what is the best way to deal with online distribution."