Of HBO’s 30 million subscribers, about 6.5 million use the network’s online streaming service, HBO Go. And, apparently, HBO CEO Richard Plepler doesn’t care a bit. Your move, Netflix.
“It’s not that we’re unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business,” Plepler said at a recent Buzzfeed Brews event. “We’re in the business of creating addicts,” he added, saying that HBO Go makes for a “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers.”
And, in many ways, he’s right. Unfortunately, though, HBO Go requires a signup to HBO’s full cable services, eliminating the “cable cutting” goal Netflix expertly endorses. Which is to say, in order for HBO Go to become the tool those “next generation viewers” use, it’s going to have to unbundle its streaming and cable services.
That’s not likely to happen soon, though. But, with Plepler indicating that the network has no inkling to go after password sharers, the point kind of remains moot for now—at least in the US. HBO is currently testing a streaming-only service with Nordic customers.
“HBO Go is value added—what you want to watch,” he said. “Right now, that’s the model for us. Are we always thinking about optionality? Of course we are always thinking about optionality … If the arithmetic changes and made sense in a different way, we are not going to be caught without the ability to pivot.”
Despite the password sharing allowance, that pivoting ability better start soon. Netflix, in fact, has passed HBO in terms of subscriber numbers, and already has ramped up its original content output. The downside, though, is that Netflix must spend a large portion of its money to obtain licensing agreements to get new subscribers. HBO simply pumps out more original material. And with HBO planning to release streaming apps for next gen consoles like PS4 (and PS3 before that), the video wars are about to heat up.
Still, though, you non-HBO subscribers out there can rest easy. You can still use mom’s password to catch Game of Thrones come April.