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WSJ Writer Proclaims He Got HBO Sans Cable...Except Not
by Karl Bode 12:34PM Tuesday Nov 05 2013
As most of our readers know, you still can't just get HBO's streaming service without subscribing to cable TV, a caveat that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. From the kind-of-weird story department comes this story from the Wall Street Journal's Martin Peers who proudly proclaims he "achieved the impossible": he was able to order an HBO and broadband package from his ISP (Verizon) without having to subscribe to cable.

Yes, somehow Peers was able to get standalone HBO without cable, something he insists was a "triumph of the modern media age." The problem? He still technically has cable:
Here is how I did it. When I called Verizon 10 days ago to disconnect my phone and TV, sticking only with broadband, the customer service representative persuaded me to keep 20 “basic” channels – such as the broadcast networks – in exchange for a $5 a month discount off my broadband price of $84.99 (pricey, but for the ultrafast 75 mbps speed tier).
All Peers appears to have done is to sign up for a limited-time promotional offer that bundles a small cable package he just happens not to watch. While smaller cable bundles tied to HBO appear to be the new industry promotion du jour (we recently were the first to unearth a similar Comcast offer launching this month), that's not even remotely close to being a real HBO-only cord cutter's dream.

"Maybe your headline should read 'How I Did the Possible: I Subscribed to HBO,'" suggests a Wall Street Journal commenter.

topics flat nest 


Calera, AL

lame street journal

I don't even get why he had to point out the "technicality" of the Cable Act. Every single cable provider (and satellite, for that matter) is more than happy to sell you HBO if you have any level of service. He makes it out as if you normally have to have the highest tier to get HBO. The only actual catch is you have to get some kind of decoding device to watch it.

Franklin Square, NY

Re: lame street journal

Correct, why is this even a story? As long as someone has Broadcast Basic, they can subscribe to any premium channel they want. But Broadcast Basic is not that cheap anymore, running from $15-20 a month depending on the provider.

Evanston, IL

1 recommendation

Re: lame street journal

Please. This is about par for the WSJ for the past 5 years - being behind, out of date, completely misleading, shoddy journalism. I thought people knew that by now?

Fremont, OH

Re: lame street journal

and yet other "news" sites pay to access their stories. Very rare do they have something that's good and actually up to date.


said by matcarl:

why is this even a story?

...'cause it's funny?

True. It's new that they're actually marketing it that way, but it's definitely not unbundled from cable... it IS cable.

Derry, NH

Some pretty close deals out there though

I was able to get Blast! Internet + HBO for $49.95 a few months ago on Comcast. Its a promotion sure but its pretty good. I think it goes to $59 in 6 months and HBO stays on once the promo price is up.

I'm on the digital economy tier which is essentially Basic + HBO. With the speed I get from Blast !+ which is 50mbps/10mbps IMO its pretty much like I'm getting basic and HBO for free.

Rated R
Williamsport, PA

Re: Some pretty close deals out there though

I have something similar. I called Comcast about two months ago to cancel TV and just keep Internet, but they gave me a promotional rate on basic TV (but with HBO) and upgraded my Internet speeds. I think I pay around $70 per month now for both.

For those who just want to save some money, it might be worth a shot calling your provider and ask about cancelling TV. Comcast was more than willing to give me a promotional rate to keep me as a TV subscriber. I really think they are just desperate to keep their reported subscriber numbers as high as possible.
One nation, under Zod!

Pennsville, NJ


Or get the USTV android app and watch HBO, Showtime and Cinamax for free. My phone uses a $30 adapter and plays on my big screen.


Douglasville, GA


Free as in bootleg. You are an idiot.

Pennsville, NJ


No Free in as a Free app on Google play. But thanks for chiming in. Who has HBO for free? But thanks for the name calling. You have shown what type of person you think you are.. LOL @ you



Wow! ...what-a-deal!!

Actually, though, if they'd drop HBO from the "deal" and the $15 it costs--thus reducing the bill to, like, $25 [initial, trial period--for a year; plus taxes & fees obviously], then I'd like it much better. (HBO, no-go)

Derry, NH

Re: Wow! ...what-a-deal!!

Honestly I agree. I have watch HBO MAYBE twice... I will watch it when Game of Thrones comes back on, but I really don't watch much TV in general.

Columbus, OH

You can do the same with MOST modern providers..

Even with TWC .. You can drop to Basic service and add HBO -- as long as you have a Digital set top box..

Same with Uverse -- I can get the 'locals' and add HBO (or any of the movie packages) ..


Salem, OR


The headline was click-bait, pure and simple. I expect better from the WSJ.

Santa Monica, CA
·Time Warner Cable

Pot, Kettle

In the world of "real" journalism (per Senator Feinstein), writers don't pen the headline, that is left to the editors.

Peers is trying to articulate that he isn't paying for "cable" channels, which is what most people "pay" for, in markets where broadcast channels are free OTA, while championing a favorite topic here, unbundled and unleashed premium IP streaming services.