On its Q1 '15 earnings call this morning, Time Warner executives provided the first color on the rollout of HBO Now, HBO's recently launched standalone broadband service. HBO CEO Richard Plepler said the company is "seeing absolutely no intrusion into people inside the (pay-TV) ecosystem, none at all. It's all additive."
Plepler and Time Warner executives have asserted from the start that HBO Now is solely targeting the 10-15 million broadband-only homes in the U.S., although they have periodically alluded to wanting to address ALL 70-80 million non-HBO subscribers (who of course are already pay-TV subscribers). I have argued in the past that, because of how compelling HBO Now is, it will almost certainly drive some level of cord-shaving and cord-cutting and is actually a substantial threat to the sports ecosystem.
Plepler also said that "We got out of the gate very fast with Apple. They're delighted; we're delighted" although he declined to provide any early HBO Now numbers. Plepler said that HBO is having "very productive conversations with traditional partners" and he expects some deals to be concluded by year end. To date, HBO Now has only signed up Cablevision, which is heavily emphasizing broadband service, to promote HBO Now. Other operators have been more cautious, concerned about the overall impact HBO Now might have on their video businesses.
Plepler also said that there is "no barrier" to including non-HBO content in HBO Now, citing corporate siblings Warner Bros. and Turner as potential partners. This is a strategy being pursued by HBO Nordic.
Plepler and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes also continued their anti-binge-viewing campaign with Plepler noting "there's a lot to be said for having social media and the zeitgeist itself be a part of a continuing conversation over 8, 10, 12 weeks." Bewkes, paraphrasing Jack Nicholson in the film "A Few Good Men," joked that "You can't handle the binging. Think if Game of Thrones was available all at once. You don't want that."
Topics: HBO Now