Netflix Hints at Streaming Premium HBO Content

Netflix recently sent a survey to some of its customers asking if they would be willing to "pay an additional $9.99 per month" to "watch HBO original series and movies streamed from the Internet to your computer or TV." As this was a survey designed to gauge potential customer interest, there is no definitive indication as to whether Netflix will in fact offer such a premium service.

Current Netflix customers who subscribe to any of Netflix's unlimited plans can also watch unlimited streaming movies using the Watch Instantly feature. (Current unlimited plans range from $8.99 per month for one disc at-a-time to $47.99 per month for eight discs at-a-time.) Presently there are over 12,000 movie and TV show titles available for streaming, including content from CBS Television Network, Disney-ABC Television Group, and Starz Entertainment. The selection options change periodically, but it typically does not include many recent releases.


If HBO content were to also become available to Netflix customers, this would include original HBO series, such as Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as movies, such as The Golden Compass and I am Legend. While the survey letter was not clear on this matter, the implication is that the available HBO content would only include those titles that were already available on DVD, and not necessarily newer content, such as recently-aired original episodes.

Many subscribers to HBO already have access to a library of original episodes and movies via their digital cable service's on-demand service. In fact, a number of cable services offer on-demand content to their respective premium channel subscribers for any of the premium channels that customers subscribe to. Additionally, this on-demand content often includes newer content that is not available on DVD yet. This begs the question, would someone who already subscribes to HBO via their cable service, also want to pay even more to also be able to stream HBO content on their computer? The answer might at least in part depend on how much of difference there is in the content selection between what Netflix offers and what is available via on-demand. The prospect of getting access to streaming HBO content on Netflix probably appeals more to folks who don't already subscribe to HBO.

It remains to be seen if Netflix will in fact offer such a service and what it would actually charge for it--many users on saw some value in such a premium service, but felt $9.99 per month was too high. This could be a first step for Netflix to get its feet wet with the concept of offering premium content for an additional fee. Perhaps other future premium content could come from other premium channels or Netflix could even offer premium channel packages, as many of the cable providers currently do. Stay tuned.