Tag Archives | HBO

Roku Dips Below $50, Adds HBO GO


Roku, which pretty much invented the cheap, easy-to-use Internet TV streaming box, is the sort of scrappy startup which you might have assumed would get steamrolled by mammoth competitors early on. Instead, it’s continued to do well even as Apple and Google have muscled in on its territory–in part because it’s a fine product, in part because it’s aggressively priced, and in part because the lineup of content is good and keeps getting better.

Today, Roku has news on two of those fronts. It’s introducing a new basic model called the Roku LT that brings the price down to $49 for the first time–cheap for a Roku, and absurdly cheap in a market in which some products cost $200 or more. The LT does 720p video, and joins fancier models at $59, $79, and $99. (The top of the line Roku 2 XS does casual gaming, including Angry Birds.)

Are there people who wouldn’t buy a $59 Roku who will buy a $49 one? Roku thinks so, and it does sound like a lot of fun for the money. It’ll be available from Roku and retailers in early November.

Roku is also announcing that it’s adding the HBO GO streaming service to all Roku players at the end of this month. HBO includes moves and full seasons of all HBO shows, and is available only to people who subscribe to HBO via cable or satellite. It joins more than 300 other channels on Roku, including Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Major League Baseball, and much more.


HBO Go Service Enroute to Mobile Devices

As the rush to put video on mobile devices continues, HBO will apparently be throwing its hat into the ring next month, if a YouTube teaser video from the cable channel is any sign. The HBO Go service first debuted in April 2009, and has slowly been expanding its breath of programming, although you’ve had to visit the HBO Go website.

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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.