Time Warner Cable Plugs HBO Into Stripped-Down, Cheaper TV Bundle

Time Warner Cable Plugs HBO Into

Package includes HBO and about 20 broadcast TV channels for $29.99 monthly promo price

HBO is feeling the love from Big Cable.

Time Warner Cable is now marketing a low-cost bundle that includes a limited bunch of TV channels and HBO — a package aimed at “cord nevers” and others who aren’t interested in paying for a typical lineup of cable channels.

The operator’s “Starter TV with HBO” package, priced at $29.99 per month, is “a great value for lighter TV viewing” with broadcast networks and access to “the HBO shows everyone’s talking about,” according to Time Warner Cable’s website. The special pricing, available for the first 12 months, does not include a set-top box fees or other charges.

The bare-bones TV package with about 20 channels includes local broadcast nets; the three C-SPAN channels; and shopping nets HSN, QVC and ShopNBC.

SEE ALSO: Comcast Offers HBO Without Other Cable Channels in Bundle Aimed at Cord-Cutters and Cord-Nevers

TW Cable’s launch of the HBO-plus-basic-TV promo comes after Comcast earlier this fall began offering “Internet Plus,” a bundle priced at $39.99 or $49.99 per month (depending on market) that includes broadband, broadcast TV channels and HBO.

Pay TV providers are required under FCC regulations to offer premium services like HBO on a standalone basis in conjunction with any TV tier. What’s new with the Comcast and TW Cable offers is that they are now actively marketing cheaper packages with HBO at a promotional price.

HBO has previously said it was “thrilled” that Comcast was offering its service in the bundle, which “recognizes the popularity of HBO’s programming and brand.”

The rising cost of pay-TV packages has been a major concern in the industry recently, with price hikes a key factor leading to small but measurable declines in subscribers over the last year.

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  1. Marc J says:

    Most cable programmer agreements require maintaining a certain subscriber penetration for their channels, and a distributor who falls below this benchmark pays significant penalties. There is an exception for local broadcast channels, but only to a small degree. So that if TW and Comcast are successful in selling lots of “Starter TV” subscriptions, their business would likely be harmed. I tend to suspect the starter package is a platform from which subscribers, once on board, can be upsold as quickly as possible.

    • On what basis do you come to such a conclusion? Their income remains rather stable whether they offer 40 channels or 200 television channels; whether a person watches CBN or CNBC. All the status does is to discourage independent channel operators in favor of the large corporations grabbing all the available broadband channels on a typical cable service.

  2. FrankM says:

    If you are trying to appeal to cord-cutters or cord-nevers, the road to success doesn’t involve having customers pay for otherwise free broadcast channels.

    If you can lobby the FCC to get exemptions that benefit your profits, you can lobby the FCC to rescind the “basic buy-through” tier for your customers.

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