It’s happening again. After viewer demand for the True Detective finale overwhelmed HBO’s streaming service last month, HBO Go customers took to the Web again tonight to complain that they can’t access the fourth season premiere. Like it did with the True Detective finale, HBO Go’s Twitter account acknowledged the technical problems. “Looks like there’s trouble in the realm. Apologies for the inconvenience. We’ll be providing updates, so please stay tuned. #GameofThrones,”it tweeted. That was followed by, “Having trouble accessing @HBO GO? Send a raven. @GameOfThrones will be available soon on HBO On Demand with some cable providers.”
Time Warner‘s premium channel is approaching the point where a change would pay off, but there’s no need to hurry, according to data from an online survey of 2,501 adults out today from Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne. Some 44% of broadband-only subscribers in the poll say that they’d be willing to pay a monthly fee for HBO GO. That “ultimately lifts HBO‘s earnings power,” the analyst says. Wouldn’t it face tough competition from Netflix which has about 32M domestic subscribers vs HBO’s 30M? Not necessarily. About 40% of Netflix users also have HBO, which suggests that lots of people consider the services complementary. They also reach slightly different audiences: HBO customers tend to be richer and older than Netflix ones. And people like HBO’s shows. More than 35% of respondents said that HBO has the best original programming while less than 20% picked Netflix in the field of premium services.
As you’d expect, the big question is how much broadband-only subscribers would be willing to pay for HBO GO. Some 18% said they’d shell out $5 or less each month, while 21% would go up to $10, 4% would go to $15, and 1% would pay more than $15. If that’s not good enough for HBO’s number crunchers, then the company can sit tight and continue to just serve people who subscribe to cable or satellite TV. Even …
The demand for tonight’s season finale of HBO‘s True Detective was so great online, the network’s streaming service HBO GO temporarily crashed trying to fulfill all incoming requests for the closing episode. “Due to overwhelmingly popular demand for , we’ve been made aware of an issue affecting some users. Please try again soon,” HBO GO tweeted earlier tonight. Service was eventually restored. The disruption reaffirms True Detective‘s status as a pop culture phenomenon, which it has been able to achieve in only eight episodes. It also underlines how inherently irrelevant traditional overnight ratings are with that so many HBO subscribers preferring to watch online, they overwhelmed the network’s server. Of course, the streaming difficulties could have prompted True Detective fans who had no intention of watching the show on TV to do so, bringing extra viewers for the finale’s Nielsen ratings. While the first season of True Detective was conceived as a closed-ended arc with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, creator Nic Pizzolatto is already working on a premise for a second season with new characters and a new storyline in a new locale.
The content choices just became more interesting for Google’s hot-selling $35 thumb-drive-sized dongle that brings Web content to TV sets. HBO GO pretty much had to make itself available on Chromecast: Users already can watch Netflix and Hulu Plus. The change means that HBO subscribers who have WiFi and Chromecast can watch shows on demand on TV sets that aren’t connected to a cable or satellite box. “Google’s Chromecast is one of the newest, more exciting devices in the marketplace today, so we are very happy to bring this capability to our subscribers,” says HBO’s Chief Technology Officer Otto Berkes. Google hasn’t released sales figures for Chromecast, but it’s Amazon’s top selling electronics device and ranks No. 2 among televisions and video products, and streaming media players.
CUPERTINO, California—June 19, 2013—Apple today announced that HBO GO and WatchESPN are now available directly on Apple TV joining the great lineup of programming offered to customers. iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes to date, and they are purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and over 350,000 movies per day.
“We have the rights to do it and we would do it if we thought it was in our economic best interest,” Jeff Bewkes says this morning. But the potential market for a stand-alone HBO streaming service in the U.S. is “not sufficiently big enough now.” HBO chief Richard Plepler in March raised some consumers’ hopes that they might soon be able to subscribe to HBO without first buying basic cable: He said that it could make sense to package HBO GO with cable or phone company broadband services. Bewkes noted, though, that HBO and Cinemax have about 40M subscribers via U.S. cable and satellite services. Time Warner wants to protect those relationships: Distributors’ pricing and marketing decisions are even more important than the quality of the programming when it comes to influencing churn rates at the premium channels. Even so, Bewkes says that at Time Warner “we always look at opportunities to increase distribution” — and it already offers HBO GO without a pay TV subscription in Scandinavia. “We’re always going to keep evaluating it depending on the country.”
“Maybe HBO Go, with our broadband partners, could evolve”, HBO CEO Richard Plepler told Reuters after the Season 3 premiere of Game Of Thrones. HBO launched HBO GO in 2010 to let cable HBO subscribers view shows on Internet devices such as iPads or Android tablets. However, HBO GO is only available to viewers who pay varying monthly fees for cable TV service, plus additional subscription costs for HBO or other premium channels that can push their cable bills to $100 monthly or more. Plepler suggested that HBO GO possibly could also be packaged with a monthly Internet service for a lower cost. Customers could pay $50 a month for their broadband and an extra $10 or $15 for HBO. Plepler in January ruled out an Internet-only product because it’s not in the company’s best interests. Even so, Game of Thrones has been pirated heavily online, and making HBO Go available to non-subscribers would provide a legal alternative. John Bradley-West, one of the actors on the show, said piracy might be reduced if HBO offered a season pass via Apple’s iTunes store. For now, though, HBO is not changing its Game of Thrones distribution windows for DVDs and downloads.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Iran Disses ‘Argo’ After Oscar Win, ‘I Want Your Love’ Banned In Oz, HBO Go Launches In Asia, Depardieu In Chechnya & More
Iran Dismisses ‘Argo’ As “Anti-Iran”, Pro-CIA
Iran’s culture minister blasted Argo, a day after it won the Best Picture Oscar, calling it anti-Iranian and weak artistically. Iran’s state TV also called the movie “an advertisement for the CIA.” “This anti-Iran film lacks any artistic aspects and it is a very weak film from an artistic perspective and we don’t expect anything else from the enemy,” Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hosseini said, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency and reported by Reuters. Mehr called the Oscar “politically motivated” because first lady Michelle Obama joined Jack Nicholson via video link from Washington to help present the best picture award. Argo has not screened in any Iranian theaters but the movie has been widely available on bootleg DVDs in the black market in Tehran. The Iran hostage drama also won best film editing and best adapted screenplay.
The apps for HBO GO and sister network Cinemax’s MAX GO have finalized a deal with Apple to make the services available on Apple’s AirPlay, which enables the channels’ subscribers to wirelessly stream programming from their iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to their HDTV using Apple TV. The announcement was made just now by HBO president and COO Eric Kessler at All Things D’s “All Things D: Dive Into Media” conference. Updates to both apps are now available on Apple’s App Store.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes just threw a bucket of ice water on the idea that Netflix chief Reed Hastings raised last week in his quarterly letter to shareholders. “While we compete for content and viewing time with HBO, it is also possible we will find opportunities to work together – just as we do with other networks,” Hastings said. “Consumers who are passionate about movies and TV shows are quite willing to subscribe to multiple services.” Perhaps. But Bewkes isn’t interested in seeing HBO programming appear on Netflix just yet. “There are not talks going on between HBO and Netflix,” he said in his quarterly call with analysts. Although he acknowledges that “sometimes other relationships emerge over time” between competitors, when it comes to Netflix he added: “Not now.”
A milestone announcement today for HBO’s streaming platform. The new HBO GO app, available at the Amazon Appstore for Android, should significantly expand the number of HBO subscribers who’ll be able to use a mobile device to watch the premium channel’s 1,400 titles including original series such as The Sopranos, Sex And The City, and True Blood. It also suggests that it won’t be long before HBO GO will be ready for other Android tablets. Most cable systems make the service available on the iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Roku, Samsung smart TVs, and the XBox 360. “Kindle Fire owners already download and use apps and games frequently on their devices, and we expect that only to increase with the addition of HBO GO and all of its popular content.” says Aaron Rubenson, Director of the Amazon Appstore. Amazon boasts that the Kindle Fire is its most successful product launch. But the company has disclosed little hard sales data. Meanwhile Amazon’s recovering from a slap this week by ABI Research. The firm says that the Kindle Fire slipped to third place in Q1 tablet shipments. Apple’s iPad accounted for 65% of the 18.2M shipments, while Samsung moved into second place with 1.1M.
It sure sounded that way a little while ago when Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes was telling analysts about the reasons why he likes HBO GO, the premium channel’s new streaming service. Subscribers frequently use it to catch up on HBO‘s original series — and the company is “dramatically increasing the number of original series on HBO.” As a result: “We have the luxury of choice if we want to drop a studio, and we’re going to evaluate that.” The channel didn’t renew its carriage deal with DreamWorks Animation; beginning in 2013 its films will appear on Netflix in the premium network window. HBO also gave up DreamWorks Pictures live-action films in 2010 when distribution rights shifted from Paramount to Disney. But last year HBO signed a deal with Summit to show its films released beginning in 2013. HBO also offers films from Fox, Universal, Focus Features — and, of course, its sister studio Warner Bros. Bewkes says that, in addition to being popular online, original series fuel worldwide growth. Some 93% of the people who use HBO GO say that it makes them more loyal to the channel, Bewkes says.
The people behind Microsoft’s console say that owners now spend more time using it for entertainment than they do for multiplayer games. And today they hope to add momentum to their effort to turn the device into a home entertainment hub by introducing voice-controlled apps for Comcast’s Xfinity TV, HBO GO, and MLB.TV. XBox users who also subscribe to the services will be able to access Comcast’s On-Demand library, HBO programming, and a choice of home or away feeds of baseball game broadcasts (subject to local blackout restrictions).
The announcements come as Comcast fends off attacks from public interest advocates who say that its video transmissions to XBox users violate net neutrality rules. The time that Comcast cable customers spend watching video ported through the XBox doesn’t count against against their broadband data caps. “The Xbox 360 provides a number of video services to compete for customer dollars, yet only one service is not counted against the data cap — the one provided by Comcast,” says Public Knowledge CEO Gigi Sohn. ”This is nothing less than a wake-up call to the Commission to show it is serious about protecting the Open Internet.” But Comcast says the critics are mistaken. Video feeds to its subscribers who have an XBox travel over Comcast’s traditional cable TV system, not the open Internet. “Your Xbox 360 essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service,” the company says. ”As a result, our data usage …
BETHPAGE, NY – March 14, 2012 – Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) today announced the launch of HBO GO® and MAX GO®, expanding to 12 the number of mobile programming services available to iO TV digital cable customers. HBO GO and MAX GO make HBO® and Cinemax® content available on any Internet-connected computer and other portable devices like the iPad® and iPhone® and Android™ smartphones to customers who receive the channels as part of their cable service.
Following Time Warner Cable’s deal for HBO Go on Friday, Cablevision had remained the only major cable operator not to offer the HBO streaming service.
BETHPAGE, NY—December 19, 2011 – Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) today announced an agreement to offer its iO TV® customers access to HBO’s authenticated online video destinations, HBO GO® and MAX GO®. Cablevision customers who subscribe to HBO and/or Cinemax will have free, unlimited access to the corresponding online services at any time, on any computer in the U.S. with a high?speed Internet connection as well as iPad®, iPhone®, iPod touch® and select AndroidTM devices. The company expects to launch these services in the next few months.
Time Warner Cable has finally reached an agreement to deliver mobile TV applications HBO Go and MAX Go to its customers. TWC has been the largest pay TV provider that hasn’t signed an agreement with its former parent company’s premium cable networks applications for TV Everywhere. Within the next month, the companyl run a brief beta trial and then the service is expected to launch to all Time Warner Cable customers who subscribe to HBO within the next month. Subscribers “to HBO and/or Cinemax will have free, unlimited access to the corresponding online services at any time, on any computer in the U.S. with a high-speed Internet connection, as well as a host of other devices, including the iPad,” Time Warner said in an announcement late Friday. Time Warner Cable was the last major holdout in signing a deal for the mobile application, which has been downloaded for use on iPhones, iPads and other devices more than 5 million times. The Apple and Android apps were introduced April 29. HBO Go will allow video-on-demand access to old and current programming including True Blood and The Sopranos on Internet-connected computers, mobile phones and tablet computers. The company said more than 1,400 titiles will be available online to Time Warner Cable customers who subscribe to HBO, with 400 additional titles available to Cinemax subscribers. Most new titles will be available simultaneously with their premieres on …
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had the best line of the day at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. Told that last year his company was the object of ”mystique, envy and fear” at the confab, Hastings said: ”Now it’s just pity.” Well, yes — considering that his company’s stock has fallen 77% since mid-July, when Netflix boosted prices by 60% for consumers who wanted to continue to receive DVDs and stream videos. ”We had done so many difficult things that we became overconfident,” Hastings says. “Our big obsession for the year was, ‘Let’s not live and die by DVD.’ ” But the change ”turned out to be a little too fast. … We berate ourselves tremendously for that lack of insight.” But his appearance at the UBS gathering was designed to demonstrate that Netflix is back on track — and that its shares are worth buying again. For investors who believe that Web video is going to soar, ”we’re the leading play on that thesis. … As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore, it’s a great opportunity.” He adds that “there’s no effective competitor for exactly what we do.”
Hastings predicted that within the next 10 years about half of all TV viewing will come via the Internet. He says that TV manufacturers ”want you to live in their device.” While about a third of TV sets sold today can connect directly to the Internet, “in a few years most of the TVs sold will be smart TVs. … It’s a phenomenal revolution.” The biggest loser will be broadcast TV, he says. “It’ll be declining like land-line telephony. … To some degree we’ll look at broadcast in 20 years as being like (telephone) party lines.” And as broadband providers include more fiber optic lines in their networks, they’ll be able to transmit Internet video at speeds of 1 gigabit per second. “Peak Netflix viewing on a Saturday night could still fit through one fiber optic (line),” he says. “A gigabit is a tiny fraction of what’s possible over fiber optic.” Hastings says that providers shouldn’t have to raise prices, or resort to usage-based pricing, to handle all of that Internet video traffic — although they might try to do so. ”It would be unfortunate because it’s not based on the costs,” which are fixed, he says. Consumers also might balk. ”Time Warner Cable tried it a couple of years ago in Texas and backed down. … I doubt it will happen.”
Although Starz appears to be off the market for now, CEO Chris Albrecht told investors today that his channel should still be in the catbird seat as digital media grow. But “it will take money” to produce the kind of programming that will set Starz apart from basic cable channels that spend as much as $3M an hour for originals, he said at a conference organized by his parent company Liberty Media. He wants Starz’ shows to have a theatrical feel with iconic, larger than life characters and broad appeal. He assured the audience that he won’t break the bank, though: For example, Spartacus ”is shot completely inside a warehouse in New Zealand….This is the way they make theatrical movies now.” Also Starz has decreased its spending on theatrical films. “That money will be reinvested in original programming.” Starz still plans to run theatricals from its premium TV agreements with Disney, which runs to 2016, and Sony, which goes to 2017.
The biggest new opportunities are in digital media: Starz next year will launch its own streaming platform for its pay TV customers, similar to HBO Go, Albrecht says. That will “get us in front of younger eyeballs and make our product as compelling as anything in the premium space.” Albrecht also is “willing to have the conversations” with companies that want to challenge cable and satellite providers by licensing traditional channels for a streamed service. “Someone will do it,” …
It’s stange that a former corporate cousin of HBO — Time Warner Cable — remains the biggest pay TV company that still doesn’t offer subscribers the opportunity to access the HBO Go digital streaming service. But that will change “soon,” Time Warner Cable COO Robert Marcus tells Bloomberg. Marcus declined to say what’s holding things up — and we’ve been hearing for months that a deal was just around the corner. Still, if Marcus’ prediction is correct, then it means the HBO customers among TWC’s 12.1M subscribers will be able to watch shows such as Boardwalk Empire, Hung, Bored To Death, and Real Time With Bill Maher on demand from Web-connected devices including tablets and mobile phones. It’s important to HBO because TWC serves two of its biggest markets, Manhattan and Los Angeles. TWC and Cablevision are the only major cable, satellite, and telco video providers that still don’t offer HBO Go.