Is HBO Worth It?

Growing up, our cable package at home included HBO. I used to watch Fraggle Rock and the occasional kid movie, but for the most part I took it for granted those days. 

I don’t think the rest of my family really watched either, but of course, the day my mom decided to cancel the HBO part of the package when I was about 14, we all howled,

Is the cost worth it for this man?
Is the cost worth it for this man? (Screencap courtesy gameofthronesfan.org)

insistent on the fact that we watched it all the time. She knew we didn’t, and off it went.

This was right before Sex and the City started, The Sopranos, and all of the other critically-acclaimed HBO dramas that popped up in the late 1990s. I wasn’t in the target demographic for any of those programs, but since then, more and more Must See shows have graced the premium channel, from Six Feet Under to True Blood, The Wire to Game of Thrones.

I really feel like I am missing out on quality television. Yes, they show The Sopranos on A&E early Sunday mornings, and I watched sanitized Sex and the City episodes on TBS, but I really haven’t seen the shows as intended. I highly doubt that one day we’ll see True Blood on basic cable, because from the one episode I saw while on vacation in Costa Rica, there’s no way that could be edited and still make sense (of course, it didn’t make much sense to me anyway because it was the middle of a season and weird stuff was happening).

I want to keep up with the best shows on television, but only if the hype is really worth it. So the question is, to those of you with HBO: is it worth it? Should I pay an extra $15-$30 a month for the channel? Do you watch HBO more, or HBO Go? What’s your current favorite HBO show?

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Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

25 thoughts on “Is HBO Worth It?”

  1. We don’t have cable at all, so we don’t have HBO, but if I could pick up cable a la carte, it would probably be on the list of things I’d get.

    We had HBO when I was growing up, and I watched the hell out of it. There was this hilarious educational show called Encyclopedia that my brother and I used to watch over and over and over. Each episode was a letter, and there were skits throughout about different words that start with that letter. U is particularly memorable – a super blonde surfer dude talked all about ultraviolet rays. Ha! I also used to sneak up late on the weekends to watch Dennis Miller Live, which was a formative part of my political foundation. My dad and I used to watch the Sopranos together every week (awwwwkward?), and it was always good for a random movie to pass the time on a lazy day. All in all, not so bad a station!

  2. I’m a little late to this, but HBO GO is awesome because it has all the old shows on it as well, and there are enough really good ones to keep you busy for awhile. I happen to have a relative with HBO who doesn’t understand the internet, so I just use her info to watch it on my XBox. The quality is great, too. And I’m hooked on all their Sunday night programming (GoT, Girls, Veep, True Blood soon).

    If you have free time for TV bingeing, you have cable anyway, and you can afford it, it might be worth having HBO during the seasons of new shows you want to watch. And it’s always an option to manipulate your cable company for free stuff.  I wouldn’t get cable for it, though, since they don’t let you just sign up for HBO GO by itself.

  3. I vote worth it. Also, many cable companies include HBO in their start up special pricing, so sometimes you can get it super cheap for the first year. Or, you can do what my husband just did and call the cable company threatening to leave because they suck, and then they will jump all over themselves to get you to stay. They gave us ALL THE CHANNELS except for Starz (seriously, it is overwhelming how many we have now), and lowered our bill by $65 a month. Mind you, we pay a lot because they do our internet service as well and we have the fastest one available since Jon works from home, but still, threatening to leave will usually get them hopping to do anything to make you stay.

    I would be grumpy without GoT, Ricky Gervais Show, Girls, True Blood, and access to HBO go.

    1. Sigh, it was sooooo nice there…the beaches, the jungles, the villa we stayed in. I went three years ago this July, and I truly don’t think I’ve done anything so relaxing since! I would gladly forego HBO just to go again right now! haha

  4. I don’t have cable at the moment, but am really grouchy that HBO doesn’t make their shows available for purchase. I’m not above buying shows I really want to see on iTunes or Amazon the day after they air, and I just don’t get why HBO doesn’t do that. They’d probably make more money than with cable subscriptions alone.

  5. I’ve had HBO access for the last few months since the place we’re staying has it, and it’s been nice. I probably wouldn’t pay for it though, because the only thing I tend to watch on it is Game of Thrones. Which is awesome, but I don’t necessarily mind waiting for it to come out on DVD.

    It has been nice to get to geek out about the show as it comes out to fellow fans, though!

  6. I’m actually about sign up for HBO- I’ve reached the point where having to depend on other people to get my Game of Thrones/True Blood fix isn’t cutting it. I actually had HBO for free in a sublease I lived in two summers ago, and I remember they had pretty cool On Demand content as well- they had a documentary series on the porn industry that the roomies and I found fascinating.

  7. At my house we cut the cord on HBO after Deadwood and Rome ended. I’m kinda interested in Game of Thrones, but I figure I’ll wait until one of my friends gives in and buys the series and then I’ll borrow it.

    The channel I will never not pay extra for though is BBCA. I watch a ton of shows on that. It’s my only non-basic cable channel must have.

  8. My cable bill is ridiculous but as much as I’d love to cut-the-cord and go “streaming only”, I can’t because I’m also a sports junkie and those things require cable.  Damn you, Comcast.

    HBO is part of my package and I watch it more than anything else not related to sports. My favorite show depends on what series is running at the time – when Boardwalk Empire ends, Game of Thrones starts. And this new show, The Network?  Dying to see it.  It looks fabulous.

    It is an extravagance but I grit my teeth and pay it anyway because other than Bones and Justified, everything I watch is there.

     

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