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It will be available at launch to anyone with an Apple device. What if people dump their regular HBO subscriptions?
What if the cable providers, who generate virtually all of HBO’s .4 billion in revenue, remain displeased by this run around them?
movies; shows from TBS, TNT, and TCM; a rich archive of cartoons; and, of course, everything from the “It’s Not TV” network.
The strategy was simple and bold, explains one source: “With better content than Netflix, what keeps you from taking all of Netflix’s customers and money?
What if Now, which may feature content never before seen on HBO, is less consistently excellent than the existing HBO service?
And what if this pushes Netflix to become even more aggressive?
But this is a massive change for a company accustomed to enjoying life as a high-minded service that has never needed to scramble for ratings or lower its taste to reach a mass market. Gregarious and opinionated, he quickly stood out as more than just a flack.
When Jeff Bewkes ran HBO, Plepler became Bewkes’s consigliere, giving advice on everything from marketing to corporate strategy.
“When I first met Richard,” jokes Bewkes, who’s now CEO of HBO’s parent Time Warner, “he outlined the future of the television industry, forecast the rise of Netflix, predicted the i Phone, and described the coding changes for Microsoft Windows.” What Plepler has done is impressive: Besides bringing great talent to the network again and again, he helped HBO fend off an earlier wave of competition, in the mid-2000s, when AMC and Showtime emerged as rivals for premium original content.
Called HBO Now, it is a stand-alone version of HBO Go, an app that gives access to just about every episode of every HBO series, as well as tons of movies, documentaries, and sports.
Rather than merely being a bonus for people who subscribe to HBO through an existing cable provider (usually paying something like a month), HBO Now will not require a cable subscription.