HBO sends cut-off threat to NZ, Aussie HBO NOW users

Prove you're in the US, or you'll be gone by Tuesday.  

The latest twist in the streaming video wars has seen HBO send emails to multiple Australian and New Zealand users of its recently launched HBO NOW service, threatening to cut them off.

Auckland man Ben Gracewood was one of those who received a copy of the email.

The message says:

It goes on to say, in short, prove you're in the US as HBO NOW's terms and conditions require, or you'll be gone by Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear if HBO had employed some fancy technology to detect users outside the US using geoblock busting software or services — or if it had simply sifted through sign-up forms looking for those who registered with a non-US address (and leaving a New Zealand street address does seem to be a common denominator from the small sample of people I've asked).

Either way, not everyone has been identified in the first wave of emails, sent today.

Sky TV recently signed a multi-year exclusive broadcast and online contract for HBO content in NZ. It has also made HBO's marquee series Game of Thrones available on its Netflix clone Neon the same day it screens in the US, and introduced a simulcast on Soho that sees Sky TV subscribers view a new episode as its screened for the first time in the US (if everything works; it didn't on the first go).

The pay TV broadcaster is also party to a legal action, announced late Friday, that claims a global mode service used by CallPlus and others violates the Copyright Act (1994).

HBO NOW aims to cut out middle men old (pay TV broadcasters) and new (Netflix etc) to deliver HBO shows to consumers direct over the internet for $US15 a month. Apple TV acts as a conduit for the service, but Apple does not hold rights to content.

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