There's a raging debate online over how much people would pay to get HBO without a cable subscription, mostly for Game of Thrones. It's even spawned a new website, takemymoneyhbo.com, which automatically tweets what users will pay with the hashtag #takemymoneyhbo.
I would pay $100 a month for a standalone @HBOGO sub @HBO takemymoneyhbo.com #takemymoneyHBO (Really. @Comcast costs $more, gives less)
— Don MacAskill (@DonMacAskill) June 6, 2012
We bow down to whoever created this-> I would pay $10 a month for a standalone @HBOGO subscription @HBO takemymoneyhbo.com #takemymoneyHBO
— Ogilvy Youth (@OgilvyYouth) June 6, 2012
But, as Zach Seward, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, explains, it's hard to find a price point for HBO that makes more money than selling all episodes through cable bundles. So, HBO probably doesn't have an incentive to change, even if Game of Thrones is the most pirated show online. Quoting Eric Kessler, Co-President of HBO,
"We benefit tremendously from the existing ecosystem. […] There are 60, 70, 80,000 customer service agents on the phone every day, and you know what they’re talking about? They’re talking about HBO. The affiliate covers that cost. The billing systems. That’s the affiliates. If you watch HBO 5 minutes a month or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that’s not a cost we have. In addition, we benefit tremendously from the fact that the cable operator bundles HBO into existing packages. So if they offer double-play or triple-play, you know, they say, get HBO free for three months. The ability to market and bundle with the affiliates is very beneficial to us. So it’s very beneficial to us to keep that transactional machinery going."
So, how much would you pay for standalone HBO or for single episodes of Game Of Thrones on iTunes?