HBO’s standalone service can’t come soon enough for Comcast subscribers, who’ve been denied access to HBO Go on yet another device.
This time, it’s Sony’s PlayStation 4, which finally got an HBO Go app earlier this week. HBO Go requires authentication from a cable TV, satellite, or telco provider, and Comcast is the only major provider that isn’t supporting the service.
This is par for the course for Comcast subscribers, who also haven’t been able to watch HBO Go on the Playstation 3 since that app arrived a year ago. Comcast doesn’t support HBO Go on Amazon’s Fire TV devices either, and only started working with Roku last December—more than three years after the app became available.
Comcast has never given a clear explanation for its stonewalling, and as Techdirt points out, its responses to frustrated customers has been inconsistent over the years. The cable giant previously told Roku users that it needed to “work through technical integration and customer service which takes time and resources.” But an employee recently told Playstation 3 users that the delay is due to “business terms that have not yet been agreed to between the parties.”
In any event, PS4 users shouldn’t have to deal with Comcast’s mysterious demands for too much longer. HBO is working on a standalone streaming service, rumored to launch in April for $15 per month. That’s a little more than Comcast’s advertised pricing, but avoiding the blockage could be well worth the price premium.
The story behind the story: When Comcast started supporting HBO Go on Roku last year, it seemed like an attempt to appease regulators as they consider Comcast’s proposed $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable. One of the major concerns with the acquisition is how much more bargaining power the combined company would have, given that they’d control access to nearly a third of all cable subscribers in the country. But now it seems Comcast isn’t worried about the optics after all, and is perfectly willing to inconvenience customers until its unique business demands are met.