March 6, 2014
During a Q&A session at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco yesterday, HBO CEO Richard Plepler indicated that the company has considered offering a standalone version of its HBO GO service. However, the prospect of offering broadband-only distribution will depend largely on demand, and only a small percentage of subscribers currently use HBO GO. The traditional model is still working for the premium channel, which reported subscriber gains of 2 million in 2013.
The gains mark the best all-around year for HBO in 17 years. Interestingly, “Game of Thrones” surpassed “The Sopranos” as the cable channel’s most-watched original series, averaging 14 million viewers across platforms.
“Plepler said HBO is playing its ‘strong hand’ in its deals with distribs that ensure it will have flexibility in the future as its broadband add-on HBO GO continues to see usage soar,” reports Variety.
“We will not be caught without the ability to pivot should we decide that pivoting is the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s a sin to leave money on the table.”
“The CEO acknowledged that only a small percentage of HBO subscribers use HBO GO, adding that it doesn’t make sense to offer that product or a similar one separated from the HBO cable TV service, given that there are about 9 million broadband-only homes in the U.S. compared to about 70 million cable and satellite subscribers,” notes The Hollywood Reporter.
Plepler sees growth potential in the roughly 70 million “undecided” television homes. International expansion also remains a key focus; HBO presently reaches about 130 million subscribers worldwide.
“He also noted HBO does well in homes that also subscribe to Netflix and vice-versa, making the point that ‘entertainment junkies’ ensure that a variety of options will continue to grow and thrive,” THR adds.