Nearly a year ago, Samsung and HBO announced a partnership that would let consumers stream HBO content to Samsung TVs. You would have to be an HBO subscriber to access the service, which meant that you had to be signed up with a pay-TV service.
Since then, you could get this HBO Go content on your computer, iPad, iPhone, Android smart phone, or even a Roku box. But not a Samsung TV. Until now.
Samsung has just announced that the service is available on certain models of their Smart TVs, with one additional restriction; not all pay-TV services are eligible. While Verizon FiOS, Charter, Cox, DISH Network, and DirecTV are supported on the Samsung screens, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are among the most conspicuously absent (though they do support the smart phone and iPad apps).
I continue to find it fascinating that the content providers such as HBO are being so timid about opening up streaming access to their content. The HBO Go service is free, but available only to HBO subscribers, perhaps so that HBO doesn’t anger the pay-TV services that provide the bulk of its revenues. On the other hand, this may simply be the company’s way of limiting demand for the streaming service, giving them time to test it out before rolling out in a big way.
It might well be that HBO is planning a streaming-only offering down the line with it’s own monthly fee. The same pay-TV service that currently gets subscriber dollars for the HBO channels would almost certainly be the same company that provides the broadband connection used to access the streaming service, so while this could mean less money for the pay-TV service, it’s not as though HBO would be cutting them off completely with the new service. There is no doubt that the cable, satellite, and telco services are going to have to be nimble and responsive over the next few years if they are going to survive the rapidly-changing video entertainment landscape.