Second-quarter earnings reports were out this week, and as happens after most earnings reports of late, HBO and Netflix begin their little friendly one-upmanship. Yesterday, the CEO of Time Warner essentially announced that he had plans to take Netflix on directly with HBO GO. The idea is to leverage the huge catalogue of content not just at HBO’s disposal, but within all of Time Warner’s properties (HBO, Turner, and Warner), which would allow HBO Go to bridge the gap between its service and Netflix in terms of the amount of content.
Until then, HBO Go is not likely to spin off into a stand-alone service, because its efforts to do so in Scandinavia, where there is a stand-alone HBO Go service, have been disappointing. It’s getting crushed by Netflix because of the content discrepancy.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation, Netflix is bragging that it has passed HBO in subscriber revenue. Netflix earned $1.146 billion to HBO’s $1.141 billion, although Netflix still remains far behind in terms of profits.
“They still kick our ass in profits ($548 million in the second quarter, compared with just $71 million for Netflix) and Emmy’s, but we are making progress,” Hastings wrote on his Facebook page. “HBO rocks, and we are honored to be in the same league.”
Back to HBO: In its earnings report, it also bragged that Game of Thrones has more viewers than even previously reported: With rebroadcasts, downloads, streaming views taken into account, the HBO series is seen by 20 million people a week, which easily makes it the most popular show on premium cable. It also makes it competitive with the top two shows on broadcast television (Big Bang Theory and NCIS) despite only reaching a fraction of the homes that CBS reaches. Of course, they’re all overshadowed by AMC’s The Walking Dead, which boasts around 28 million weekly viewers (and both GoT and The Walking Dead’s numbers would be much, much higher if illegal downloads were accounted for).
We still don’t know numbers on Netflix’s programming, but a recent poll did show that 44 percent of Netflix members have watched Orange is the New Black, while 31 percent of subscribers have watched at least some of House of Cards. The sampling is low (around 500 people), but if we were to extrapolate that out to Netflix’s 50 million subscribers, that would mean that around 22 million people have watched Orange is the New Black, while around 15 million people have watched House of Cards. That would mean that Orange is the New Black may be watched by even more people than Game of Thrones.