Want Free HBO or Showtime? Just Ask.

by Paul Michael on 22 February 2010 23 comments
Photo: craighwk

Premium channels come with premium prices. Usually, between $10 and $20 a month, depending on the channel and your cable/satellite company. But here's something that applies across the board. They're usually available for free.

I used to be employed by one of the big premium channels, and I can tell you right now that there are ALWAYS deals going on. The basic idea is one that drug dealers and razor blade companies alike will use time and again — get you hooked with a free sample, and then hope you come back for more later on, at full price of course. So, they'll do deals with you, via your cable/satellite company, to try them for free. Many people will cancel after the free period (this is called "churn" in the biz) but a good percentage will stick around because they like it, or they forget to cancel it. The latter is the most common reason.

Right now in my zip code all FIVE premium channels have something special going on. I just got my mother-in-law a great deal — six months of HBO for free from Comcast. And all I had to do was call and ask for it. In this digital day and age, activation is instant and can be done remotely. Ten minutes after reading this article, you'll almost certainly have a free premium channel that you didn't have before.

Just give your service provider a call, or use live chat if you prefer, and ask what special offers are currently available for the premium channels. If you're met with any kind of resistance, simply tell them that someone you know in the area got a deal for 6 months of free HBO, or Showtime, and then see what happens. As these deals are always going on, you will get offered something.

If that fails, then the good old fallback is to say you'd like to cancel your cable or satellite service and go elsewhere. The customer service rep is usually authorized to give you a special offer as part of a "save sale," which can also net the customer service rep some extra cash for keeping you around as a customer. And it makes good sense. It's far less costly to retain a current customer than to try and find a new one, and it doesn't really cost the service provider, like Comcast, anything to do this. They're already piping the feed through, they just have to turn it on at your end.

Give it a try today and see how you do. Remember, insistence and determination is the key. No one wants to give you something for free at the drop of a hat. But a few minutes of your time can get you a few months of free entertainment.

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Guest's picture
Olivia

The key to this approach is making sure you don't get yourself stuck in something you do not want. I know some of these deals offer you six months free as long as you sign up for a minimum of two years. So, while this can be a very useful approach, make sure you are clear about the terms of the deal, such as whether or not you will be able to cancel after the trial period.

Guest's picture
Guest

DirecTV offered me 3 free months of Starz back in November and I accepted. I was NOT told that I would have to cancel it once the 3 months passed. Well, last Thursday was 3 months and on Friday I noticed I was still receiving the channels. Lo and behold my most recent bill (dated 02/11) contained a charge for the service. I called DirecTV immediately but was only given a $9.03 credit (for a $12.99/month service). I questioned the amount, (seeing I only had it for one day over the 3 month time), but was told that's what the credit was.

ALSO, even though the service was free (a $12.99/month value), the taxes were NOT. What DirecTV does is charge you the $12.99/month (which gets taxed - in CT, that's 6% sales tax and a 5.25% gross earnings tax) and then credits you $12.99 on your bill...BUT THE CREDIT DOESN'T remove the taxes on the charged/credited amount! Sure, it's only $1-$2, but still, it's not free.

So be leary and watchful with how it's done!

Guest's picture
FFB

I have to big issues with my service provider in the last six months. Both times I said I was fed up and ready to leave and both times I was offered Showtime for a year. The first time I held out for a month free of service. You want to speak with the retentions dept.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just yesterday I called my cable company for the 3rd time in 2 weeks to say I was leaving. The first 2 times resulted in bad customer service telling me the grass was not greener and to make sure I returned their equipment. Third time was a charm ( I was determined) and I am now paying $47 less a month with no added contract for the next 12 months. That is over $500 in savings.

Guest's picture
Ltsblosm

So we tried getting a premium channel free for a sample period to try it out. Mentioned switching to U-Verse (since we have already been considering it due to the many issues we have had in the last year with Comcast).... to no avail. Bottom line - what they were willing to provide was a premium channel at a discounted rate per month.

Guest's picture
Guest

DirecTV is currently running a 6 mos special on Showtime, with $5 off per month, reducing the cost to $7.99 per month.

Guest's picture
Guest

Planning to upgrade from Standard Dish to High Definition? Pretty much do the exact same thing to what most people are doing with premium packages.

I saw an ad on TV regarding Dish Network offering free HD DVR Equipments and Free Installation. I called DirecTV if they are willing to upgrade my equipments for free or else i switch to Dish Network. 30mins on the phone with the rep, who was willing to lose me as a customer because she couldn't or no power to do so. Talked to Tier2 Customer Rep and finally offered a bargain. =) If i was willing to resign my contract for another 2 years they are willing to upgrade all my receivers to HD including 2 HD DVRs with free installation and no upfront costs. I do however have to pay the *HD Service in which to me having the equipments for free instead of paying over $1000 with the installation was successful bargain.

Hence being with DirecTV with another 2 years, Tier 2 Rep also added a 6mos free premium channels, STARz, HBO, Showtime, etc....

The moral of the story, don't talk to 1st responders, talk to their boss. =) Happy Hunting

Guest's picture
Guest

Missed an episode? Watch them all at www.hboepisodes.com

Guest's picture
Guest

I tried this out and got 3 months of free HBO on live chat! The first try didn't work, but the 2nd one did!

Guest's picture
Guest

I tried this with Dish Network and they wouldn't give me free HBO and Showtime without signing up for paperless billing/auto-pay. Anybody else have better luck?

Guest's picture
Guest

Just scored HBO free for a year and also got Showtime at a discounted rate. All I did was ask....lol.

Guest's picture
Guest

yeah.. I got the free HBO with my comcast a few days ago. While the installer is showing us the "FREE HBO" channels, a lady with a cupless bra (full boob show) comes up. Lovely.

Last night, checking through channels. HBO has 4 couples with full nudity, getting it on outside with 3 people watching. Yeah. Getting rid of HBO. Not worth it to me.

Guest's picture
Guest

Free HBO, not worth it because of nudity?

what is this I don't even

Guest's picture
Robin

Thanks! I took your advice and called Dish Network. They are running a promo for Encore - FREE for 12 months as part of their anniversary special. Plus, they gave me STARZ for 12 months as well. Best I've received yet! Thanks for reminding me to make this call. :)

Guest's picture
Guest

Worked great on 05/21/11 for Comcast in Philadelphia. Three months of HBO for just $1.99 activation fee.

Guest's picture
Brian K

I called DirecTV and got Showtime for free for 2 months. Thanks a lot for this idea!!

Guest's picture
Guest

Here in Ohio Time Warner wiil simply tell you to to go ahead and switch if you are unhappy the claim they are not running a monopoly yet in the town I live in Time warner is the only cable service you can get unless you want satelite tv and the truth about satelite we"ll lets just say its not worth it =(

Guest's picture
Guest

I was having an issue with my Comcast DVR box. Usually I just ignore it and it rights itself within a few hours, but I decided to call. Boy was I glad I did! The guy walked me through re-booting it, and then offered me 6months free of any movie channel of my choice. I asked for Showtime and then we hung up. But Showtime wasn't coming through, so I called back, got another guy, told him that the previous guy had promised me 6months of showtime but it wasn't going through (it was past midnight and the guy was probably bored). He said "I have a whole screen of special offers here, let me look through them and see what we can find" He ended up finding an offer for 6months of Showtime, HBO and Starz for free. I verified that the channels were coming through before I hung up with him.

So, bottom line, any time your screen says there is an issue and suggests calling the 1-800-COMCAST number? Do it. There is very little to no wait time (especially at night) and because you are being inconvenienced, they will usually give you free offers.

Guest's picture
Guest

I tried this with Cablevision/Optimum but all they offered me was the same deal online. 11.95 a month for Showtime and a rebate of 25.00 after 3 months. ;(

Guest's picture
billy

I Wish HBO would make a classic HBO that shows all the 80's stuff on it like movies shows and cartoons and even the HBO 80's theme song on it the space HBO i loved that HBO they have that hbo 80's theme song on youtube just saying

Guest's picture
Guest

That would be a cool idea. There should be a free movie channel like what they do with Turner Classic Movies. It should be called HBO Classic that just shows movies from 70's, 80's, and 90's. We need a free HBO channel so we can enjoy free movies without having to pay every month.

Guest's picture
Guest

That offer is for a limited time only.

Guest's picture
Jamie

Verizon has one of the worst customer service groups in the telecommunications industry. Not surprisingly they don't give you anything for free. That includes good service.