HBO going for a "bigger and broader" approach under new leadership

09 Juillet, 2018, 21:51 | Auteur: Christine Menetries

When AT&T successfully acquired HBO's parent company Time Warner (Fox made a similar attempt in 2014) last month, part of the deal included the ability to track and target audiences.

While viewers might associate HBO's brand more with critical acclaim than sheer number of eyeballs on the screen, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey kept it 100 percent with the 150 employees who attended a recent town-hall meeting to discuss the future of the network.

HBO has always been more concerned with quality programs than its amount of content, as it focuses heavily on its Sunday night programming and prestige shows.

It's not Netflix, it's HBO, but HBO, it seems, is about to start looking a lot like Netflix. Plepler mentions that HBO was profitable and Stankey said that it's "just not enough".

HBO has made almost $6 billion in profit over the past three years, while devoting more than $2 billion a year to programming, the article said.

"It's going to be a tough year", Stankey said, according to the Times article.

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"We do that", Mr. Plepler responded, to scattered applause. "I've said, 'More is not better, only better is better, ' because that was the hand we had", he allowed. Both Stankey and Plepler acknowledged that producing more shows could lead to a drop in quality, but they said they hope to produce more without sacrificing HBO's standard of excellence.

Without ever referring to Netflix, which now dominates original content in the eyes of consumers, Stankey was adamant about shifting HBO's way of doing things during the town hall. "It's not hours a week, and it's not hours a month". "I've switched that, now that you're here, to: 'More isn't better, only better is better - but we need a lot more to be even better.'" Plepler, who has been with HBO since 1992, also noted that the network's current approach is "not going to be sustainable going forward". "You are competing with devices that sit in people's hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes".

Continuing the theme, he added: "I want more hours of engagement. Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow's world".

While HBO's streaming service, HBO Now, is gaining momentum and is expected to reach 7 million subscribers by the end of the year, it doesn't sound like that's enough for Stankey. He said the current total subscribers (40 million in the U.S. and 142 million worldwide) was not sufficient. Stankey suggested that the goal is to "become a much more common product", which will require moving "beyond 35-to-40% penetration".

As the streaming wars heat up between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple, and others, we'll see if HBO can strengthen its position even further under its new direction.

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