I Just Canceled HBO
I watched the season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm on Sunday.
I called to cancel HBO on Monday.
I don't have anything against Time Warner's (NYS: TWX) premium movie channel, but Larry David's irreverent sitcom was really the only reason that I was tuning in to HBO at all. Why should I pay roughly $12 a month through my already expensive cable company for a channel that I won't need for another year -- and that's if there's even another season?
It's not the only video streamlining taking place in my life. I also downgraded my Netflix (NAS: NFLX) subscription over the weekend. I'm keeping the streaming because I do find myself watching more and more with every passing month. However, I did go from having two discs out at a time to just one.
I find that I'm just not going through DVDs the way I used to. I've had Mars Needs Moms -- Disney's (NYS: DIS) colossal animated bomb -- in my house for more than a week. No one in my family has any desire to watch it, but there's nothing in my queue to make me want to return the disc unwatched.
What's happening to me? Is this a typical experience out there? I used to be on the unlimited Netflix plan that allowed three discs out at a time, and there were some release date deluges where it didn't seem like it was enough. These days I feel as if even having one DVD out at a time may be too much.
I have a few theories on this. The first theory is that streaming through Netflix and Hulu has filled a programming void. One of the reasons why I rushed to the mailbox when I knew a red mailer was waiting was because I would watch entire seasons of television shows on DVDs. Thanks to streaming, that is becoming less necessary for many shows.
Another theory is that Netflix's deal with the studios last year to hold back on new releases for four weeks in some cases is making me rely less on the service. I realize that there are plenty of die-hard Netflix fans who relish seeing older releases, but I'm in the camp that has been with Netflix for nearly a decade to catch the movies that I missed at the multiplex. When they're out, I want to see them as quickly as possible. It's not a surprise that services that revolve largely on relatively new DVD releases -- including Coinstar's (NAS: CSTR) Redbox and NCR's (NYS: NCR) Blockbuster Express -- are thriving, even in this age of video streaming.
I can't imagine that I'm not the only one who canceled HBO on Monday. Sunday night was also the series finale of Entourage. When Netflix reports its average revenue per subscriber -- probably in the fourth quarter -- I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't get the expected bump associated with this month's rate hike for couch potatoes on dual plans.
Taking this one step further, I also believe that churn will begin creeping higher for all video companies. I'm now less hesitant to cancel Netflix if there aren't any compelling releases in the pipeline. Nixing the streaming service actually makes sense if I'm not likely to be watching anything for a few weeks.
Welcome to the new age of transient video customers! It won't be terrible, but it also probably won't be pretty.
Will Netflix and HBO lose more subscribers than they gain this quarter? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix and Walt Disney, as well as buying puts in Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Netflix shareholder and subscriber since 2002. He does not own shares in any of the other stocks in this story, except for Disney. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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