While a cable plan that allows consumers to have only Internet service and HBO is still a pipe dream and/or a reality for anyone who borrows their friend’s HBO Go password, it seems many providers are offering just that—you just have to know how to ask for it. The Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey A. Fowler recently did some digging on what he compares to ordering from the cable version of In-And-Out Burger’s “secret menu,” in that it requires knowing the right terminology (and will facilitate you sitting you on your ass). And according to him, these are the magic words to say when negotiatng a leaner, yet still HBO-enhanced package:
- Comcast: “Internet Plus”
- AT&T: “HBO Internet Plus”
- Verizon: “50/25 Mbps + Local News and Sports + HBO (or Showtime)”
- Time Warner: “Starter TV+HBO and an Internet plan”
Of course, also like the In-And-Out menu, some of these aren’t exactly “secret.” Comcast has been quietly offering its “Internet Plus” package for nearly a year now, which gives you broadband, HBO (and HBO Go), and a limited number of other channels, all for about $75 a month. Opinions are divided on whether that’s even worth it: If you’re just in it for HBO, and you don’t mind the rest of your cable package being limited to broadcast networks, C-SPAN, and a smattering of home shopping channels—and also you don’t want a DVR—then “Internet Plus” does cut your bill in half, even as it cuts the number of programs you’ll enjoy down to significantly less than that. And of course, that means you’ll just have to find those shows on the Internet now.
Still, if you’re willing to wait for your favorite non-HBO shows to turn up on other streaming services—or you have some other means for getting them on your computer before that, like maybe you’re friends with a movie star?—then this could be a decent workaround. Or, at least, a stopgap, until Time Warner finally caves and allows you to buy HBO Go as a standalone product.
One other caveat: Getting these cable packages requires actually talking to their customer service reps, a nightmarish scenario that is arguably worth paying an extra $100 a month just to avoid.