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HBO CEO: Original Programming Competition is Heavy

30 May, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

HBO CEO Richard Plepler doesn’t mind that everyone from Amazon to Netflix is copying his company’s original content success. They just shouldn’t expect to beat HBO at its own game.

“It’s not a zero sum game. Others are going to do good work — that’s fine,” he said May 30, speaking at the Nomura Global Media & Telecom Summit. “What we concentrate on is playing our game to our fullest capacity.

“Because of the scale of our business, because we have 115 million subscribers around the world … we have the ability to invest more in original programming than our competitors do,” he added.

With “True Blood,” “Game of Thrones,” “Boardwalk Empire,” an original movie slate to be envied, original sports shows, documentaries and more, HBO is rightly the gold standard for selling original programming, Plepler said.

“The big lesson for us is nobody’s doing us any favors when they sell HBO,” he added, speaking of pay-TV distributors. “They’re growing their own businesses.”

Regarding HBO Go — the online add-on that lets HBO subscribers watch new and library content on demand without any additional charge — Plepler said HBO is proud of the service, and is looking for ways to improve it.

“For right now, we have the right model for our business,” he said. “We’re going to build … as much flexibility into it that we’ll need in the future.”

HBO subscribers are watching linear theatrical content 80% of the time, 20% original programming, “and on Go, it’s the inverse,” Plepler said. “We like the dynamic at play, with people talking about … not getting their fix of ‘Game of Thrones’ this weekend.”

Very few people are sharing HBO Go passwords to prevent paying for the channel, he added, with college students borrowing their parents’ password the most frequent culprits.

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