There was a lot of buzz over the weekend for the HBO Go app.
The application, which allows owners of Apple
In a clever case of marketing, HBO is making next weekend's True Blood episode available early to HBO Go users. Is this how we got to 3 million?
It's a big number for a service that was launched just a few weeks ago, though it's important to make the distinction between downloads and active users.
Sirius XM Radio
However, there's a big difference between HBO Go and Sirius XM's app: HBO Go is available at no additional cost to most of HBO's real-world subscribers. Sirius XM expects existing Sirius and XM receiver owners to pay $3 a month to stream.
HBO Go's app model is eerily similar to Netflix's
"Take that Netflix, HBO Go app sees big growth," read the headline of CNET's Greg Sandoval's column yesterday.
I don't see how HBO Go is a shot at Netflix. Let's go over three meaty reasons why this is no Netflix killer.
1. HBO Go is free, but it's not cheap
Offering the HBO Go app at no extra cost to active subscribers doesn't make it the same kind of value proposition as Netflix. Remember that HBO isn't available on its own. The premium movie channel is offered only to top off already costly cable and satellite television plans.
This is a neat perk for the HBO subscriber paying nearly $100 a month for digital cable and HBO, but it doesn't compare to Netflix's unlimited streaming, which can be had for as little as $8 a month. There's a reason HBO growth has been stagnant lately, while Netflix growth has gone through the roof.
2. HBO Go is a retention tool
Leading cable provider Comcast
It's not as if the cord cutting has been contagious. Pay television's user base suffered its first ever quarterly decline during last year's second quarter, but it has largely bounced back. Comcast and many of its cable operators are simply losing couch potatoes to cheaper alternatives. AT&T's
Comcast is hoping to stop the bleeding by turning to the cloud. The TV Everywhere initiative it's been championing has spawned Xfinity and now an Xfinity streaming app to take its cable plans on the go. Comcast is turning to Xfinity as a retention tool, and the same can be said about HBO Go's app.
HBO and Netflix aren't mutually exclusive. Each service is trying to provide more bang for the buck through streaming, but it's not an either/or scenario.
It never has been. It never will be.
3. HBO and Netflix are entirely different beasts
Why isn't anyone calling HBO Go a Hulu killer? After all, HBO and Hulu revolve largely around television shows. Netflix offers several streaming shows and seasons on DVD, but we're also talking about tens of thousands of digitally delivered movies through Netflix.
Yes, one can argue that HBO Go and Netflix streaming will find their respective subscribers spending more time consuming the services. With less time to go around, everything else -- and not just rival digital streams -- will be competing for that narrowing leisure time.
However, each service is really only as good as its content. I'll probably ditch HBO once the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm runs its course. I can't fathom weaning myself off of Netflix, because there's always something coming out soon.
The early access to this week's True Blood may make the app popular, but HBO Go is not going to get in the way of Netflix's plans for global domination.
Is cord cutting real or just a blip? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Netflix shareholder -- and subscriber -- since 2002. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.