HBO Needs to Be the Next Netflix

Oct 13, 2013
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Netflix and HBO don’t like each other. Well, at least HBO doesn’t seem to like Netflix. And Netflix? Well, it would love to have HBO content on its streaming service, but it’s not fond of the fact that HBO has no desire to do so. In fact, HBO has clearly drawn a line between its service and Netflix.

HBO reasons that such a move makes sense. After all, the company has been successful at offering cable-subscription services for years and with new, original programming to offer like True Blood, Game of Thrones, and The Newsroom, it’s obviously seeing an opportunity to expand its presence in the entertainment world and achieve something far more grand.

But the truth is, HBO won’t be able to do anything of the sort until it realizes that the market is changing. HBO needs us all to remain on cable services in order to drive its revenue. And although that will likely continue for the foreseeable future, a decade from now, it’s entirely possible that we’ll have all cut the cord – or at least moved on to the next big thing.

If all of the rumors surrounding Apple’s plans in the television business are true, something major is about to happen. There has been talk that Apple might try to be its own cable provider, while other reports have suggested it’s simply partnering with cable providers to deliver channels and entertainment services to them wherever they might be.

Meanwhile, a cord-cutting phenomenon is growing around the world as people realize that investing in stream-video services might actually be a better financial move than sticking with cable companies that charge exorbitant fees for their content.

Those two issues could prove to be major problems for HBO. Apple has been a major change agent in the industry for years, and if it’s planning on changing the entertainment paradigm, who knows what could happen next? And all of that fails to acknowledge that Google appears to be laying a foundation for its own television offering that could rival cable providers.

[aquote]HBO can only be successful if it goes for streaming dominance[/aquote]

For its part, HBO seems content to stick with its gameplan of offering its paid service along with a companion streaming app. But the truth is, the company can only be successful if it goes after the true prize: streaming dominance.

Yes, HBO needs to be the next Netflix. HBO needs to find a way to stop relying so heavily on cable providers and stop forcing its HBO Go users to be subscribers. Believe it or not, there are many people out there that would love to have access to all HBO content for just several dollars a month, and if the company could bolster that offering with other television shows and movies, it could be entirely possible that Netflix would have a huge, concerning contender in its midst.

That HBO might go to a paid model with HBO Go isn’t so crazy. Right now, non-HBO subscribers can buy the company’s shows on iTunes or the Google Play marketplace. Therefore, it wouldn’t be such a huge leap to make its streaming service available to everyone.

Do I expect HBO to follow my advice? No. Do I realize that there are far more concerns at play when changing a business model? Of course. But Netflix has yet to fully establish itself as the future-proofed leader in streaming. And until it does, the streaming market is there for the taking.

Will HBO, with its wildly popular original series, boxing, and understanding of the “plight” of television networks, take advantage?


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