When a free-on-HBO inaugural concert isn't (and then is)

Update 2:

I came home from the gym at 4:00 this afternoon and noticed the message indicator on my DVR was lit. The message: a notice that the inaugural concert would be live broadcast free on the local access channel 13 (so I missed it) and rebroadcast on the same channel at 6 this evening.


So I called my cable provider (Mediacom) this morning -- the monopoly cable TV provider in much of Madison County Alabama outside the Huntsville city limits -- to ask if they would be allowing their customers access to the "free" HBO coverage of tomorrow's inaugural concert.

After 10 minutes on hold, the representative returned to apologetically inform me that only current HBO subscribers would be able to see the concert. In other words: no soup for you.

Both DirectTV and Dish (the two satellite providers that compete with Mediacom here) are trumpeting on their websites the fact that they are providing free HBO for the event (and more). If I want to make Mediacom pay, I'll have to switch to satellite and get AT&T to install DSL at my house (and then live with the thinner data pipe). Right now I'm tempted, despite the costs, hassles and lower-value internet connection. Not that it would get me access to the concert in time.

Aside: Yes, I know I can watch it streaming from HBO.com. I applaud HBO for providing that workaround for dealing with their less civic-minded local outlets. Of course, we might blame the inaugural committee for making this an exclusive deal with HBO (but then somebody's got to pay for all this celebratory activity).

But to return to my main line of rant: what's Mediacom's excuse? Lameness? A callous decision to try to make money by requiring an upgrade to subscription to get HBO access for the event?

I call it FAIL.


According to media reports, Mediacom will air the special free for folks in Des Moines Iowa and Valdosta, Georgia. What makes them more special than Madison County Alabama?