HBO GoThe HBO Go on demand video service has made its way to mobile devices finally, but don’t bother downloading it if you don’t already subscribe to the network.

There has been a lot of talk about how people would love to see a streaming solution for HBO’s notoriously high quality original content.  The problem is the company wants far too much for it, causing Netflix to even ask subscribers in a poll if they would pay an extra $9 a month just to have HBO’s original series.  Nothing ever came of that, so one has to assume that it was deemed unfeasible.

In Feb. of this year HBO launched HBO Go which allowed current subscribers to access the networks vast back catalog on demand.  What was missing was the ability to take that mobile.  With the launch of HBO Go for iOS and HBO Go for Android, you can now watch original shows and movies that HBO produces, as well as some theatrical films.  The only catch is that you still have to be a subscriber to HBO through DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon, AT&T, Charter, Cox, SuddenLink or Xfinity to log into the service.  And, no, we didn’t leave off Time Warner, they currently aren’t an option, which is even odder when you think about the fact that they own HBO.

Overall the app is impressively put together and there is a wealth of content.  There are a few oddities such as you can only watch the third season of True Blood, but everything else seems pretty complete from the sampling I did.  You have complete runs of all of the older series they offer as well as shows still in production (with just that really odd exception of the afore mentioned True Blood.)

The video quality appears to be great on my iPad 2 streaming over Wi-Fi.  Those was some slight pixelation during opening credits as the file was buffered, but it quickly corrected, and I didn’t notice anymore even while jumping ahead in an episode of Deadwood.


Title card for Deadwood on HBO Go - that's a reflection in water, not bad image quality

While it is unfortunate that this is limited to current subscribers, even that could be a potential mistake for the company.  As someone who has subscribed to the channel since the late 1970’s, I am a die-hard fan of its original programming.  I own many of their complete DVD box sets for series such as The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood and so on, but why should I bother picking up the inevitable complete box set of Big Love when it’s released now?  Any time I want to watch series I can just open up my iPad and pull up the episode I want at no extra charge, and thanks to the HDMI adapter I can feed it to my TV, so where is the motivation for me to plunk down the money for the DVDs now?  Wouldn’t they have been better off offering them for cheaper to someone like Netflix to make at least a little money?  With this current scenario, yes, they have my subscription money, but no residual DVD sales and have actually ended up losing money from me in the long run.

Not that I’m arguing, mind you.

In short, if you subscribe to HBO, it’d be silly to not download this as it’s getting more bang for your buck.  If you’re HBO, you kind of have to wonder why they didn’t think it all the way through.

What do you think?  Has HBO made a mistake with HBO Go in regard to DVD sales?