HBO Chief Not A Fan Of Binge Viewing

It took them a long time to come around to it, but HBO finally unshackled its subscription channel from TV cable packages this month with the launch of its standalone HBO Now streaming service.

Speaking with Variety and The Washington Post, HBO CEO Richard Plepler says he’s been pleased with the reception that HBO Now has gotten, but he won’t discuss any numbers yet other than saying: “We’re out of the gate fast.”

He also stresses that, so far anyway, it does not appear that the standalone service is taking customers away from its cable offerings – rather only adding new customers.

But while they may have moved forward on one front, Plepler says HBO has no plans to follow the Netflix route of debuting a full season’s worth of programming simultaneously to cater to “binge viewers”.

He says that he thinks audiences prefer weekly instalments, which allows continuing the conversation over a period of time. He adds that weekly instalments also work best for something like “The Jinx”:

I don’t think it would have been a great thing for HBO or our brand if that [“The Jinx”] had been gobbled up in the first week. I think it was very exciting for the viewer to have that mystery held out for an extended period of time.

There’s something very powerful about having a conversation in the culture occurring for 10 weeks, 12 weeks, 13 weeks, about your programming. Occupying social media during that time, expanding the conversation about your brand for 12 weeks. You put on a show and binge it – that happens to be one way to watch it, but then it’s exhausted… I also think people enjoy the treat of waiting for the next episode.”

Is he right? Or is Netflix’s strategy the way to go?