Cord cutters may dream of the day when HBO offers its shows as a standalone subscription option over the web but it doesn’t look like it will be under any pressure to do so for the foreseeable future. Barron’s notes that Time Warner on Wednesday said that HBO added 2 million subscribers in 2013, which was its biggest yearly increase in 17 years. HBO’s revenues have also risen 6% year-over-year, which means that it’s still raking in money despite the added competition from Netflix, Hulu and other online television options beloved by cord cutters. What all this means is that HBO’s business model isn’t broke and thus doesn’t need fixing. While this might be a disappointment to those of us who want to watch HBO shows without subscribing to expensive cable bundles every month, it’s also sadly a fact of life.
The NPD Group released a study this week that showed the steady decline of premium channel subscribers over the past two years. NPD Group analyst Russ Crupnick explained that many consumers are attempting to save money by replacing premium channels with streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu Plus, but according to an HBO spokesman, NPD’s “research is simply incorrect.” More →
Fans of hit HBO shows have long dreamed of the day when they can watch their favorite programs online without having to subscribe to an expensive cable bundle. While HBO has given no indication that it will ever sever ties with the cable companies that distribute its content, that could change if new trends flagged by the NPD Group keep accelerating. More →
Did you think you were getting away with something by saving $150 a year while using your friend’s HBO Go login instead of subscribing to HBO yourself? As it turns out, HBO not only doesn’t mind that you’re using someone else’s login to stream its pay TV content for free… it wants you to. In fact, according to the company’s chief executive, account sharing is a “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers.” More →
Telltale Games, the maker of the TV show-based “The Walking Dead” video game, has confirmed that it’s working with HBO to launch a “Game of Thrones” series of games starting in 2014, Polygon reports. “We’ll be taking advantage of all the fiction to make something great,” Telltale Games CEO Dan Conners said.” We’re just really getting into it right now and thinking about characters – who has the most at stake, who has the biggest impact on the world.” More →
It looks like the cord-cutting phenomenon is finally getting big cable companies’ attention. Variety reports that Time Warner Cable “is now marketing a low-cost bundle that includes a limited bunch of TV channels and HBO” that is “aimed at ‘cord nevers’ and others who aren’t interested in paying for a typical lineup of cable channels.” The new package, dubbed “Starter TV with HBO,” will be priced at $29.99 per month for the first year and “does not include a set-top box fees or other charges.” More →
The Netflix-HBO rivalry has recently gone global as both of the content giants have targeted some northern European countries for international expansion. New numbers out of Sweden show just how comprehensively Netflix is hammering HBO in the early innings. Swedish research firm MMS has published its most recent numbers for the September-October period showing that Netflix reaches an estimated 308,000 daily viewers while HBO Nordic captures a paltry 17,000 daily viewers. More →
As the producer of the world’s most pirated television show, you might think that HBO would be very eager to crack down on illegal streaming of Game of Thrones. However, the company has been surprisingly sanguine about all the BitTorrent users around the world who illegally watch its hit show every week. Now Business Insider reports that Time Warner, Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes said recently that Game of Thrones piracy is a net positive for HBO because it creates more word-of-mouth excitement and it gives HBO more new subscribers than it takes away. More →
Happy news for everyone who picked up a Chromecast dongle last week: You could soon use it to stream HBO GO on your television. GIgaOM reports that HBO is in ongoing talks to “bring the cable network’s online offering to Chromecast,” although there’s no timetable for when HBO GO will be available for Google’s new device that lets you stream content from Android, iOS and Chrome from your smartphone, tablet or computer directly to your television. Chromecast already supports mobile apps such as Pandora, Google Music, YouTube and Netflix, so it’s not surprising that it’s working to bring HBO GO on board as well. GigaOM also says that both Vimeo and Redbox Instant will also soon support Chromecast.
It’s a pretty good bet that HBO could expand its paying audience for Game of Thrones if it gave viewers the option to buy season passes on iTunes or Amazon like other shows do. TorrentFreak has published some pretty astonishing numbers showing that Game of Thrones’ third season premiere was downloaded illegally by roughly 5.2 million people, which is just 1.5 million fewer than the 6.7 million viewers who watched the episode the first night that it aired on HBO. What’s more, the show’s 5.2 million illegal downloads are 79% greater than The Big Bang Theory, which TorrentFreak says was the second-most pirated show in the world this past spring with 2.9 million illegal downloads.
HBO’s chief executive Richard Plepler made waves earlier this year when he indicated that the company may expand its HBO GO offering to non-cable subscribers. The executive noted that in the future, HBO could potentially team up with Internet providers to offer the popular streaming service to customers separately from pay-TV packages. Cord cutters shouldn’t celebrate just yet, however. Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, said on Wednesday that the company has no plans to offer HBO GO without a cable subscription. More →
Good news for Google Fiber subscribers who want to follow the adventures of Tyrion Lannister and the Stark family: Google on Tuesday announced that its Fiber television service will now offer HBO for an additional $20 per month. The entire $20 monthly package includes not just HBO but also HBO2, HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO Latino, HBO Comedy, and HBO Zone. A similar Cinemax channel bundle is also now available for $10 per month. Google has been slowly working to add more channels to its Fiber television service to compete with cable operators such as Time Warner Cable by delivering both a comprehensive pay television service as well as the fastest broadband Internet service in the United States.
While some companies are looking to end piracy across the entertainment industry, one major player doesn’t think it’s quite the crisis it’s often made out to be. HBO’s hit show Games of Thrones is the most-pirated TV show on the Internet with more than 4 million illegal downloads per episode, however the company’s programming president Michael Lombardo believes piracy is a “compliment” to the show and has actually helped sales. In February, Game of Thrones season two was released to record-setting DVD sales, becoming the company’s biggest first-day home video release with sales of 241,000 units, an increase of 44% over season one, and sales of individual episodes reached 355,000, up 112% from season one. More →