This is the question Jake Caputo, owner of design shop Design Crumbs, asked last night as he launched TakeMyMoneyHBO.com, a site that allows you to tweet @HBOGO and @HBO how much you’d be willing to pay them for a standalone HBO GO account that’s not tied to a linear TV subscription. We spoke with Jake about his attempt to get the premium cable channel’s attention, but first: how much are people willing to pay? About $12 a month, according to Dominic Balasuriya’s analysis of all the #TakeMyMoneyHBO tweets. There have been thousands of hashtagged tweets and counting.
The New York Times recently covered the fact that the characters on HBO’s “Girls” probably couldn’t afford HBO, and that when searching Twitter you’ll find fans of the show begging friends for their GO passwords. Apparently, HBO’s content, which includes Game of Thrones, Veep and more, has finally hit the point where it’s too popular for the cord-cutting generation.
The TakeMyMoneyHBO site, which is designed to look like GO, lists the following anthem at the top: “We pirate Game of Thrones, we use our friend’s HBO GO login to watch True Blood… Please HBO, offer a standalone HBO GO streaming service and Take My Money!” We spoke to Caputo (below) about his campaign, and the major conversation he’s fueling on the social web.
Jake Caputo: I just wanted to get the attention of HBO. I’m not storing any data, I’m not taking a poll, I’m just trying to point out to HBO that they have people willing to pay them for a standalone HBOGO service. The site simply lets users tweet @HBO and @HBOGO with the same hashtag.
LR: What are your thoughts on how social is affecting TV?
Caputo: I think social media is letting TV studios, show execs, and actors get closer to their fan base. Unfortunately, I think cable companies and satellite services stand in the way just as much as they enable the studios.
LR: What’s your background?
Caputo: I’m a 28 year old web designer living in the Chicago suburbs with my wife, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and our two cats. I create commercial WordPress themes full time for sale.
LR: Have you heard anything from HBO yet? What do you hope to accomplish?
Caputo: I haven’t heard anything from HBO yet. I hope they’ll eventually offer a standalone HBO GO service, but I doubt it’ll ever happen. They have too much red tape to cut through.
“Going direct to online customers by pitching HBO GO over-the-top would mean losing the support of its cable, satellite, and IPTV distributors. And since the Comcasts and the Time Warner Cables of the world are the top marketing channel for premium networks like HBO, it would be nearly impossible for HBO to make up for the loss of the cable provider’s marketing team or promotions.”
All that free marketing adds up to 29 million current subscribers at $7 to $8 a month, and “there’s no way that HBO could make up in online volume the number of subscribers it would lose from cable,” Lawler writes. By tweeting a link to Lawler’s story with the line “(he) has it right,” HBO is saying the switch isn’t happening anytime soon. And you can be sure HBO has done that math many times.
HBO’s content creators should be proud to have created such good content that the social web has to cry out for access. Muck Rack (my company’s site) is even showing that at least 29 journalists have joined in the #takemymoneyHBO campaign.