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Netflix: HBO Should Offer Online Subscriptions

Posted by: , 18:01 AEST, Sat September 28, 2013

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Netflix offers advice to HBO, saying the premium cable network should start offering an online-only subscription plan
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Image/Photo Credit: HBO

Netflix CFO David Wells urged HBO to consider offering an online only subscription package at a Goldman Sachs conference this week.

Wells believes that if HBO were to consider detaching itself from its current premium cable add-on subscription structure to one where they sell directly to customers, and to offer an online-only service, that even more people would sign up. 

"We believe that if they were direct-to-consumer, there would be materially more subscribers that would pay for it in the U.S.," Wells said.

HBO's current online offering, HBO Go, is only available to existing cable subscribers of the premium network - those without cable are unable to access HBO Go. Many users have expressed the wish to take part in "cord cutting", to move away from cable and towards online only offerings.

HBO has consistently said it isn't interested in offering a cable-less subscription plan, believing that their current revenue model is the best one for the time being for funding their variety of mega-budget programming, including Game of Thrones. 

Netflix's success in its own original content, with House of Cards winning a prime time Emmy, the first for a non TV network, however might make HBO rethink its current funding policies.

And going online might help to combat the rampant piracy of popular HBO shows, by giving viewers the shows they want in the format they want to watch it in.

At the same conference, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson revealed a startling fact on a related issue. That in Australia, one of the worst offenders when it comes to piracy, up to 20% of subscribers that have access to the HBO show Game of Thrones still choose to download pirated episodes of the show, to avoid the short time lag that exists between the US and the Australian airing of new episodes. If HBO were to adopt Netflix's policy of releasing all episodes of the same season in one go for their online-only subscription plan, then this could be seen as a possible solution to the piracy problem.


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