So I've been fighting with Comcast over trying to get HBO for The Game of Thrones. I have a cable box with the most basic of plans because it's 2 dollars a month cheaper then just getting broadband alone.
I don't watch television through my cable box at all. Don't even think it's hooked up at the moment.
Comcast has a service called XFINITY, which is their streaming service of movies and television shows. I can watch stuff on there right now, and I do. I even had BBC America streaming for a while to watch Top Gear, even though I didn't pay for the service on cable. (Something I brought up with one of the reps I'll detail below, and I can no longer get it streaming. Which is fair, I'm not paying for it.)
With Game of Thrones on HBO, I was more then willing to upgrade my account to get HBO for the duration of the series, thinking I could just access it on XFINITY. And since I didn't want a cable box, all Comcast had to do was flag my account for digital + HBO, I could start streaming XFINITY immediatly, and no need worry about the cable box at all.
I soon found that this is out of Comcast's wheelhouse. The process for upgrading includes an onsite service visit to upgrade the cable box to a digital one, hardwired into their process. Can't skip it. Which is what I wanted to do.
After using Comcast's chatroom assistance (which was better then I expected, to be honest), a few calls, and begging on Twitter, I was directed to send an e-mail to an address that warrented a response from Corporate Escalations in the Office of the President. I'm not sure how official that title is, but it did sound impressive. It was here that I found out about the process being hardwired into upgrade of service, and that what I wanted would simpliy not be.
I know what I want is non-standard. I get that, and I'm not surprised that what I wanted is not available. But this made me realize first hand the change in industries occuring. Comcast is so focused on their cable output, giving lip service to their streaming options, that they're missing a seperate revenue stream, one that other services are quite filling for me, if only delayed by months at a time.
Here's my e-mail when the Office of the President responded to me for a followup.
I still think it is very odd that you require a cable box to activate an account when trying to push the digital streaming abilities of XFINITY. I have resigned myself to not getting HBO for this season of Game of Thrones and waiting for the DVDs because of this.
I understand what I want is untraditional, cable service without the cable box or television. But if you really want to make XFINITY comparable to the other streaming services, you have to realize that people like me no longer watch shows on televisions, or televisions alone. Many of us watch everything streaming on our computers or tablets or phones. Many who cannot get the service streaming how they want resort to torrents.
I've never been a fan of that, so rather then pay Comcast and HBO money for switching my account on to a premium service, flagging it as able to stream HBO content through XFINITY and the cable box be damned, I'll just wait for the season pass on iTunes, or DVD to be released, or stream it over Netflix.
I know I'm being stubborn, but these are the choices available to me in this day and age. I wanted to work with Comcast to get HBO, but as I was told time and time again your system is not set up to handle what I want. I understand that, and I thank you and all the various call staff I've dealt with for being patient with me. But please understand I'm not the only one who wants the system to work like this, I'm just the only one who decided to press as far as I did.
I am going to get the content I want through Comcast's wires, it's just a matter of how and when. Either by getting it streaming through XFINITY now or streaming through Netflix in a year's time. One way you get my business as a broadband consumer, the other broadband and cable.
Again, thank you for your time.
I don't want to hate on Comcast too much, their internet service has been stellar since moving here to Pittsburgh, and everyone I talked to on the phone or in chat was actually polite and willing to help with my odd request.
But it's almost comical to watch an old industry try to adapt. They seem to have everything moving in the right direction, have a streaming service and accounts set up to meter it, only to be tripped up by the legacy issues everyone is stepping over or will learn to step over in the next few years.