Why is HBO Go not a to-go service?

The problem with HBO Go is that the name is really misleading.

In what world is HBO Go a to-go app and service for viewing TV shows? Not in this world, that’s for sure.

There will be no HBO episodes on a plane, train or automobile, because you cannot cache episodes on HBO Go for when you don’t have an Internet connection. I’m traveling this week for seven days to Pittsburgh, and it looks like I won’t be able to catch upon Game of Thrones while I’m traveling. It would seem to me that one of the main reasons for HBO Go would be to allow viewers to catch up on TV shows.

The hotel wifi will almost certainly not be good enough for me to stream episodes. It’s not just that HBO Go requires an Internet connection, it needs a good one, especially if you like viewing your video at anything above 1995-online video quality. So, I have to ask, how is HBO Go, a to-go app and service?

I cannot watch episodes on the go with it. I cannot at all. The only thing HBO Go is good for is watching episodes in my own home when I’m away from my own TV. Or if I were to visit a relative or a friend with a fast Internet connection and wanted to watch TV by myself (it’s HBO Go, not HBO social).

Can someone explain why HBO Go doesn’t support caching of episodes?

This issue doesn’t get to the biggest issue with HBO Go; the service requires a cable TV subscription, tethering users to TVs, cable and old ways of thinking about video. I’d love to use HBO Go as a standalone service for $10-20 a month for the pleasure of watching HBO shows without needing cable. I’d be able to watch shows on my TV via a Internet-connected setup box such as the XBOX 360, Apple TV, Boxee box or one of the many other ones. And, in this post-cable world, I’d love to be able to watch my favorite shows on the go.

But, let’s get back to the first major issue with HBO Go: it requires a strong Internet connection. In HBO’s world, a world that wants to protect traditional cable viewing at all costs, how could someone possibly want to watch an HBO show on an airplane?

Crazy right? And why would anyone want to watch an episode of Game of Thrones on a plane via an app called HBO Go? I can’t imagine why Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated shows.

HBO is one of those companies that complains bitterly that people pirate their content, but doesn’t try to provide legal content in ways that people want to use it. The only way to do mobile viewing of an HBO show is to wait for up to a year after the season airs and purchase it on iTunes, Amazon.com or another digital service. Then you can load it onto a mobile device and view it. Very user friendly and modern. Who wouldn’t want to be a year behind on a TV show, all because they wanted to be able to watch TV on a mobile device.

That’s the only legal way. In 2012. I may not have an MBA, but I’m pretty sure that making it easy for people to buy your content is a good way to get them to actually buy it.

As it stands, HBO Go is a good way to watch HBO on an iPad or a laptop on a couch, but nothing more (I don’t understand the concept of putting HBO Go on set-top boxes, since the only way to get HBO Go service is to have cable in the first place, and cable boxes are in fact set-top boxes). This is not a to go service, but I hope that eventually HBO adds both the ability to download shows for offline viewing (or viewing when wifi speeds aren’t fast enough) and the ability to subscribe to just HBO — not the rest of the trash on cable.

Since I don’t have a cable subscription, this whole post is purely academic, of course.