HBO to Cut Off HBO Now Users Outside the US

If you live outside the US, you may use a VPN (virtual private network) to access certain services in that country. Many people use a VPN with Netflix, to be able to access a broader range of movies and TV series available in the US than in foreign countries. Some other services also turn a blind geolocation eye to such users. And, it seems that some people are also using VPNs to access HBO’s new $15 a month HBO Now service.

But, according to TorrentFreak, HBO is going to cut these users’ cords.

HBO has started to crack down on paying customers who access the HBO Now service from outside the United States. Subscribers from countries including Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia who use VPNs and other unblocking tools are now being threatened with account terminations.

TorrentFreak has posted a screenshot of an email that some HBO Now users have received:

HBO VPN

This isn’t surprising. TV channels have licensing agreements with channels in countries around the world to distribute many of their shows, such as the very popular Game of Thrones. This said, the people paying $15 a month who are outside the US are probably those who would be pirating the series otherwise. So it’s not clear who wins by this decision by HBO.

Amazon Fire TV: First Impressions (Spoiler: They’re Not Good)

I got an Amazon Fire TV today. It’s finally started shipping in the UK. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I have to say, my first experience with the device isn’t very positive. After plugging it in, I saw a screen asking me to choose my language, then I saw this:


IMG_2307.JPG

The progress bar moved, slowly, for about ten minutes, then I got a message that the update had failed, and I should unplug and replug the device. I did that, and the progress bar is moving very, very slowly. I called Amazon, wondering if there was something wrong, or whether it was just a Very Large Update, and the support person didn’t know. And there’s no way to reset the device to factory settings.

This isn’t a very good customer experience. To have a device that simply isn’t ready to work out of the box, and to have to download what may be several gigabytes of software to get it to work, is just wrong. The device should work, using its current software, and let you set it up and see how to use it. It should then tell you that there’s an update, and, perhaps, give you an idea of how long it will take to download the update.

Compare this with setting up a new iPad, which I did yesterday. Through every step of the process, the iPad tells you what’s happening, and shows you what you need to do.

That’s the difference between Amazon and Apple. Amazon doesn’t care very much about the customer experience; for Apple, it’s the key to keeping customers. From the packaging to setup to usage, Apple devices make you feel comfortable. Amazon, they just flog the stuff and let you deal with it.