How to get cable TV without paying for it?

How I Did the Impossible: HBO Without Cable TV
January 30, 2017 – 03:46 pm
3 (Legal) Ways to Get Pay TV

WSJ The WSJ’s Martin Peers, now living the cord-cutter’s impossible dream

Martin Peers is the WSJ’s Media and Marketing Editor

Life as a cord-cutter, without a pay television subscription, isn’t as much of a fringe activity as it might seem. Lots of TV shows are available for purchase on iTunes, often right after they first air on TV, and services like Netflix and Amazon.com offer cheap flat-rate options for catching up with others.

The one outlet whose content has typically been kept inside the walled garden of pay TV has been HBO. While someone willing to wait a few months could rent a DVD or buy an episode on iTunes, diehard fans who want to catch the latest episode of “Boardwalk Empire” or “Game of Thrones” as soon as it is available have had little choice but to subscribe to pay TV. (Well, they could engage in piracy, but that’s another story).

Lots of people are hoping that Time Warner will one day offer HBO on broadband without requiring a pay TV subscription. So far there’s little sign that’s going to happen anytime soon. HBO is nervous about alienating satellite and cable operators that now market its service and which wouldn’t be thrilled if HBO was available outside pay TV, given the incentive that could give some people to cut the cord.

Peter Dinklage in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’

Here is how I did it. When I called Verizon 10 days ago to disconnect my phone and TV, sticking only with broadband, the customer service representative persuaded me to keep 20 “basic” channels – such as the broadcast networks – in exchange for a $5 a month discount off my broadband price of $84.99 (pricey, but for the ultrafast 75 mbps speed tier).

In other words, Verizon was paying me to keep some video service, surely a calculated choice that I might one day decide to upgrade to a richer package of channels. At the very least, Verizon could continue to count me as a video subscriber, a metric that is closely followed on Wall Street.

Only problem is, it’s something of an artifice. As I gave up my set top boxes, the only way I can see these channels is through a digital cable-ready TV, which I don’t own.

Not that it matters. I could pull those channels down with an antenna if I wanted. I only agreed to include them in the package because it reduced the price I’m paying for broadband.

As it turns out, though, my decision to accept the channels also allows me to keep getting HBO. The 1992 Cable Act says that cable operators cannot sell HBO to a customer unless that customer has already signed up for the basic tier of channels. So without those local channels that I’m (not) paying for, I wouldn’t have a chance of signing up for HBO.

So I called Verizon on Friday and not only did the company say yes to HBO but they signed me up at a special HBO promotional rate of $10 a month for 12 months, a 50% discount available currently.

Similar deals are available elsewhere. Comcast Corp has lately been marketing an offer it calls Internet plus: basic TV channels plus HBO plus 25 mbps of Internet. It’s a promotional offer aimed at new customers, people primarily interested in the Internet who also want HBO – people in my situation.

There are a couple of differences between Comcast’s offer and what I arranged on my own. Most importantly, Comcast requires subscribers to its package to have a TV set top box so they can see the TV channels. For one thing, that gives those consumers access not only to those channels, but Comcast’s extensive array of video on demand content, which makes a future upgrade much more feasible.

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Source: blogs.wsj.com
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