HBO CEO: HBO GO is a gateway drug

Michelle Clancy | 22-01-2014

HBO isn't worried about people accessing its content for free. It's digital content, that is. That's the word from HBO CEO Richard Pleper, who said that HBO is aware that subscribers are sharing their passwords with non-account holders for the HBO GO service, the TV everywhere offering that gives on-demand access to all HBO content on mobile and digital devices.

"It's not that we're unmindful of it, it just has no impact on the business," Pleper said at a recent Buzzfeed event.

To get HBO GO, users in the US must be subscribers to the HBO premium channel, which is only available as an add-on to a cable, IPTV or satellite subscription. GO doesn't make extra money for the premium net it's merely a customer differentiator, for now.

"HBO GO is value-added what you want to watch," Pleper said. "Right now, that's the right model for us. Are we always thinking about optionality, of course we are always thinking about optionality ... if the arithmetic changes and made sense in a different way we are not going to be caught without the ability to pivot."

And in fact, GO is the equivalent of the free sample, teaser-based path to customer acquisition, he said. In other words, it's a gateway drug. Password-sharing is actually then a "terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers. We're in the business of creating addicts."