Unlike NBCU, News Corp, Disney/ESPN/ABC, Rainbow Media, etc., they don't ask anyone to pay for their content unless they want it. Perhaps it's just because they were early in the cable game and chose the "premium-you-only-pay-for-it-if-you-want-it" model. But never let it be said that moss is growing on their building foundations.
As noted in an article in a paidContent: The Economics of Digital Content article Why HBO is once again TV’s most relevant network:
The difference between HBO and even it's sister Time Warner stations like TNT and CNN is that anyone who has cable or satellite can have HBO but no one who has cable or satellite is forced to pay for it - like a tax for some "greater good" - in order to watch other channels they want.
It was just one more small step for TV Everywhere. HBO Go will now be available on yet another tablet, the Kindle Fire, through eight out of the top 10 pay TV services in the U.S. And it was just one more incremental move for HBO, as the premium cable company ... re-establishes itself as television’s most relevant programming brand.
...HBO is just as important to the evolution of the television business as it was a decade ago, just for different reasons. Instead of bucking the TV establishment with groundbreaking shows, the subscriber-supported service, which still touts an industry-leading 29 million customers, is now carrying the establishment on its back. As traditional TV’s most proliferate brand — available on Xbox 360 game consoles, iPads, Roku set-tops and now Android tablets like Kindle Fire, through a consensus roster of pay TV operators — the fate of HBO Go is the fate of TV Everywhere.
Netflix is out there teaching consumers that they can stream all they want for $7.99 a month; HBO is trying un-teach the concept that eight bucks a month will really sustain the kind of truly premium television content you’ve grown accustomed to. And until Netflix proves that it can reliably create a full slate of original hits, no other programmer is as boldly venturing into the multi-device world on the strength of its own content.
And if you choose to pay a cable or satellite TV provider for the HBO channels, then you are entitled to its original content free on the internet on almost any platform. Welcome to a sustainable 21st Century economic model.