An article mentioned in a recent episode of Frame Rate, says that HBO has no interest in audience members who want to cut the cord from their cable provider. The post, from Paid Content, says in part:
HBO Co-President Eric Kessler told a gathering of industry boffins this morning in New York that there is no chance his company will make shows like True Blood or The Wire available to digital non-subscribers. HBO currently has around 30 million customers, all of whom must buy its content as an upgrade from their cable or satellite package.
It seems to me that HBO would want to go where the market is for their products, rather than stick to an antiquated system of providing their content via an existing cable subscription. I doubt the long-term strategy for accuring revenue will sustain itself. Tom Merritt said on Frame Rate that this announcement was more for the benefit of cable providers than for the consumer, necessarily. When you combine the fact that original content providers like HBO have a growing market for online content and that they have long-term contracts that keep them obligated to cable providers, it's no wonder they have to make statements like these for the benefit of their existing revenue streams.