Previously, we told you that HBO is considering acknowledging the Internet is not going anywhere, and starting up a Netflix-style service through your cable company. But either way, HBO is cuddling up to tech companies in a big way.
For example, it rolled out the premiere of Game of Thrones not in LA, but in Silicon Valley. Yes, granted there are lots of nerds there, but it’s about a lot more than just giving the audience what it wants where it wants it.
“Welcome to the new HBO,” said Will Richmond, a longtime cable executive and publisher of VideoNuze.com. “Two or three years ago, you wouldn’t have seen this mentality from HBO. But the network is trying to be much more tech forward and immerse itself in the tech community.”
This is on top of other tech investments: HBO recently named one of the key personnel behind the Xbox, Otto Berkes, as its chief technology officer, and it also has a software office in Seattle.
So why the sudden about-face? Because the writing is on the wall. HBO makes a lot of money, estimated to be about $3 billion, but subscriber growth is flat and that revenue is tied to a collection of companies playing a game of economic chicken with its customers. HBO is happy for now but it also knows something bad could happen before they know it.
More to the point, HBO knows that there’s a market for its programming that is not being served: Game Of Thrones is the most pirated show on the air, and independent research has repeatedly shown that if you give the people a legal way to buy the things they want, they tend to stop stealing them.