To understand the problem Jake Caputo was trying to solve when he launched TakeMyMoneyHBO.com, one simply has to read a web comic from The Oatmeal. In it, a fan of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones desperately attempts to avoid pirating the show by visiting multiple streaming websites to download it. Only after failing to download it on iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO's own website does the fan give in and downloads it illegally.
Many fans have been frustrated by the fact that it's impossible to access the show online unless you already have a cable subscription, and they've long argued that they should be able to just pay to stream it online. According to Forbes, Game of Thrones is the most-pirated show in television history, and many attribute this to the lack of legitimate online streaming options.
Caputo, a web designer who lives in Illinois, has been an avid fan of both Game of Thrones and True Blood. He says he used to watch it at his brother's house, and then when his brother moved away he let Caputo log in on his HBOGo account, where cable subscribers can stream HBO content.
"But then they stopped subscribing to HBO," he says. "So what do you do at that point?"
He got the idea for TakeMyMoneyHBO.com on Tuesday at 4 p.m., and had coded and launched it by 6:30 p.m. After an hour and a half it already had over 2,000 visits.
It allows visitors to plug in how much they'd be willing to pay to stream HBO exclusively online. Then they simply punch a "Tweet it" button and the amount is published to their Twitter stream with a call to action. The tweets contain the Twitter handles for both @HBO and @HBOgo to ensure the networks sees all of them.
"I would pay $10 a month for a standalone @HBOGO subscription @HBO takemymoneyhbo.com #takemymoneyHBO," reads one such Tweet.
"I don't want to have to pay $70 to get Comcast here in order to pay an extra $20 to get HBO," Caputo says. "I'm more than happy with my $7 for Netflix and $7 for Hulu, and it's where I watch my television. I was just kind of hoping the site would draw a little bit of attention from HBO and show them the number of people who are willing to give them money."
According to TechCrunch, a script written to scan Twitter's API found that the average amount users tweeted out from the site was around $12.
HBO did not respond to an emailed request for comment and so far the @HBO and @HBOGO Twitter accounts haven't responded to the tweets.