HBO Go Could Be the Next Netflix

Jan 21, 2012
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HBO Go Could Be the Next Netflix

As a Time Warner Cable customer, I was one of the last cable subscribers out there to get access to HBO Go. For months now, many of you have probably been using the streaming service, and to see a column about it now might surprise you. But don’t hold it against me -- I was a victim of the oddly contentious relationship between Time Warner Cable and its former corporate overlord, Time Warner.

Regardless, I now have HBO Go. And after using it for the past several days for more hours than I’d like to count, I can say now, with certainty, that HBO Go has a strong chance of becoming the next Netflix.

Now, I’ll freely admit that there are some major differences between HBO Go and Netflix, the most notable being that HBO’s service only offers its own content. What’s more, it’s only available to HBO subscribers, which could stunt its growth a bit.

But beyond that, I’m seeing nothing but good things from HBO Go. The service works exceptionally well, and offers all the episodes of all the shows the network has aired in recent years. What’s more, it also includes movies, documentaries, and HBO’s stellar sports series, making it the complete package, in my book.

Would it be nice to have content from other services? Sure. But you know what? HBO’s series lineup is so good, I don’t quite miss access to, say, “The Office” or “How I Met Your Mother.” I’m more than content watching “The Sopranos,” “Entourage,” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

[aquote]Time Warner has strong ties with Hollywood, putting it ahead of the game against Netflix[/aquote]

In the coming years, I think HBO, with the right strategy, could make its service far better than Netflix. Time Warner has strong ties with Hollywood studios, automatically putting it ahead of the game against Netflix. And if it can start bringing the service to more devices, including game consoles and set-top boxes -- its Achilles heel right now -- I could see HBO Go’s adoption skyrocketing.

Whereas Netflix has quickly become a TV-focused service that comes with outdated movies for everyone else, HBO Go has the potential to become the go-to place for movie content. With the right content deals, I just don’t see any way Time Warner won’t be able to add many more films to the service to round out what is already a content-heavy solution.

So, I see nothing but potential for HBO Go. I was skeptical of its value initially, but after getting to try the service out, it’s clear now that my concerns were unwarranted. Are there limitations to its focus that could hold it back from realizing its full potential? Sure. Might HBO try to stick with its current business model and fail to achieve the kind of results it could? Of course.

But if the company plays its cards right, I think there’s a real chance HBO Go becomes a better -- and more-desired -- destination than Netflix.


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