By Koren Sulllivan
Jonesing for the next season of Game of Thrones? Maybe you wanna get your Girls fix? How about living vicariously through the atrociously funny Kenny Powers of Eastbound & Down?
Whatever the case, you’re probably already familiar with HBO GO. For those of you who don’t watch TV because you’re too busy reading– let me share with you two things: 1) no one believes that line about you not watching TV, and 2) HBO GO is HBO’s on-demand service that allows you to watch any of their content on your computer or mobile device whenever you want. It’s all free if you’re an HBO subscriber.
But, hey, wait a minute…what about those of us who are too cheap to subscribe to HBO?! Can’t we just watch HBO for free? We sure can. I mean, c’mon, you know Grandma isn’t really using her HBO password to stream TV shows to her computer. So just snag her password and you’re golden! Even though it seems a little sketchy and it might make you paranoid that someone’s about to kick through your dorm room door and sue you for every last cent that you made waiting tables last summer, you needn’t worry.
The CEO of HBO GO, Richard Plepler – in a brilliant move last winter – made a seemingly offhand comment in regards to not being concerned about sharing of account passwords. Plepler basically gave the green light to those who’ve been watching HBO GO with borrowed credentials. Said Plepler, “It’s not material to our business, number one. It’s not that we’re unmindful of it, but it has no real effect on the business.” (So he just said it was cool that we’re borrowing passwords, right?)
But think about it: folks at that level don’t say those sorts of things by accident. What HBO did by “accidentally” giving permission to those who would share HBO GO logins was to get an immediate feel for the market and consumer demand. People started sharing passwords like crazy and everyone got hooked on HBO shows. Fast-forward to just a few months later when anxious fans with—and without— legal means of accessing HBO GO crashed the site as they all tried to login to watch the season finale of True Detective and again, a month later, during the Season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones.
It hardly seems coincidence that in October 2014, some six months later, HBO officially announced a new standalone HBO streaming service that won’t require a cable subscription. It will be an á la carte service, the release of which, by all indications, will be timed to coincide with the Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones this April. And don’t think they’re going to allow you to keep using Grandma’s credentials if you want to watch.
Feeling played? That’s because you kinda were. It’s okay; you aren’t alone. Let’s look back…what was it exactly that HBO’s CEO said? You know, last year when he said it was totally okay to borrow someone else’s HBO GO password? Oh yeah, now we’re remembering… During that same interview, Plepler also said, “[Password sharing] presents the brand to more and more people and gives them an opportunity, hopefully, to become addicted to it… and what we’re in the business of doing is building addicts – building video addicts.”
People were just so excited about not getting into trouble for sharing logins that they didn’t stop to wonder why they were being allowed to share. Meanwhile, Richard Plepler was just hanging out, drinking his aged bourbon and waiting for us all to get hooked on the crack he’s been selling.
By Koren Sulllivan