HBO Go's Quick Start: A "Sticky" Response to NetFlix?

On May 2, 2011, HBO launched HBO Go - an app for mobile devices that gives HBO subscribers unlimited access to a huge library of HBO content (currently 1400 shows and films). According to this June 26th, 2011 report in CNET, in less than 2 months some 3 million subscribers (out of a potential of 28 million total HBO users) have downloaded the app. That amounts to over 10 percent of all HBO customers who are now receiving HBO branded content for no additional charge on their mobile devices.

This rapid move to HBO Go (HBO claims almost a million subscribers downloaded HBO Go in the first week that it was available) can be seen as a major development in the battle for New World motion picture delivery.

By giving their content away for no additional charge, HBO has taken a big gamble - risking, for example, the potential revenue from future DVD box sets - to prove a point: By making a vast amount of HBO content available for free to current subscribers - content that is not available anywhere else on TV and certainly not on Netflix's streaming service - HBO is hoping to show customers thinking of jumping to another (cheaper?) streaming service that paying for HBO still makes sense.

Netflix may be cheaper. And there is a whole world of content on Netflix. But where else can you watch Entourage, True Blood and Game of Thrones? And now you can watch every episode on your phone or iPad.

Some observers have questioned why HBO Go is only available for mobile devices? Why can't HBO subscribers have access to all the HBO content on their set top boxes?

But HBO's point with HBO Go isn't about enhancing the experience of HBO at home. It's all about making HBO "stickier" for customers who might be thinking about dropping their subscription.

What is the most convenient and satisfying way to spend money for motion picture content? If I can watch HBO at home - with a growing selection of HBO on Demand choices on my TV set - and I can watch the entire HBO library on my mobile device using HBO Go - how can I drop my HBO subscription?

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Randy Finch's Film Blog:

Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.