Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

HBO + iPad = More HBO-Watching, “Steady” HBO Subscribers

A move to let people who subscribe to HBO watch the pay channel’s shows on iPads and other gadgets has increased total viewership. But it hasn’t moved the Time Warner unit’s subscriber figures.

HBO Go users, who can watch shows like “Game of Thrones” on their iPad, iPhones, and Android devices, watch 30 percent to 50 percent more than non-users*, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said today at the UBS media conference.

But Bewkes said that the pay channel’s subscriber count had been “stable” in the past year, which would mean it still has about 28 million paying customers.

That makes sense, given that the “TV Everywhere” strategy Bewkes has been pushing isn’t focused on attracting more customers but in keeping the ones he has — especially those tempted to seek out video entertainment via the Web, or services like Netflix.

Meanwhile, Bewkes was careful to note that those viewership bumps may not continue, given that HBO Go is still primarily in the hands of early adopters, though that’s still a decent-sized number. Last month Time Warner announced that the HBO Go app had hit the 5 million download mark for Android and iOS users.

Speaking of Netflix — just in case you didn’t get the message via this weekend’s interview with the Financial Times — Bewkes reiterated his position on the service. He’s happy to sell them stuff he can’t sell anymore. Services like Netflix and Hulu “can definitely add value to all of us, if you’re trying to get that obscure movie that you haven’t seen yet,” he said.

That kind of faint praise may explain why Bewkes’s initial assessment of Reed Hastings’s company today — “Netflix is our friend” — drew laughs from the audience.

*Bewkes didn’t specify whether that 30 to 50 percent increase was for TV viewing, or an aggregate number that includes TV + devices. I’m assuming the latter, but have asked Time Warner reps to clarify. UPDATE: Yup, aggregate.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik