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July 16th 2014 11:28 am

What's the cheapest way to get HBO?

Between new shows like like Game of Thrones, and older classics like The Wire (Greatest Show in the History of Shows™), Sopranos, Deadwood, and more, HBO has a lot of great content.

There's so much content, that a lot of us would be happy to pay HBO directly for access. Unfortunately, this isn't totally possible unless you sign up with an expensive plan from your cable provider.

Or is it?

The Wall Street Journal posted an interesting piece about how to get HBO without cable TV thanks to a "secret code". The title is a bit misleading, since you still pay for a basic cable TV package to get access. In theory though, this is much cheaper that buying a bundle of premium channels, but it's still not entirely what consumers want. We want HBO. Without other stuff.

Are there cheaper ways to get access to HBO? Or are you bumming some access codes of friends or family members until there's a better way?

Via: blogs.wsj.com­/personal­-technology­/2014­/07­/15­/the­-s...

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Cable companies have offered stripped down plans for years. Cablevision offers a "Broadcast Basic" plan that will provide your standard over-the-air channels for $15.52 a month. This is generally intended for customers who live in areas with poor TV reception.


The bright side of paying for this is that since it counts as a cable package, they will let you add on premium channel packages, for $12 or $15 extra, like Showtime or HBO:


My best friend's parents had this arrangement 12 years ago (and probably still have it now): Broadcast Basic + HBO. It was weird to turn on a cable box and only see basic and HBO channels. They got this plan because reception is crap out in Brighton Beach and they also wanted movies.

I would bet basic plans like this became more popular and more widely available after the switch to digital TV back in 2007, given that digital signals are all or nothing. It used to be that you could get a weak/poor signal in some areas with analog, but those places lost their over-the-air signals entirely after stations became digital-only.
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FiOS offers a "TV Local" plan that only costs $10 a month for basic over-the-air channels. Their premium add-ons also undercut Cablevision sharply (for the first year, at least, then they double):

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The other day I noticed that my Amazon Prime Instant Access has a pretty large HBO section. It's not the latest and greatest but when you've exhausted NetFlix it's pretty enticing. You can see the entire collection here: www.amazon.com­/HBO­-Providers­/b­/­?node­=293883011
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