Netflix thinks HBO will go ‘binge-first’ soon

Game of Thrones - Emilia Clarke. Image courtesy of HBO
Would the Mother of Dragons tolerate all 'Game of Thrones' episodes being released at once? Image: HBO

Netflix releases its original series all in a single shot, and the SVOD giant feels like HBO could soon go down that same road.

In today’s fourth-quarter earnings release, Netflix described the competitive landscape and specifically noted that the BBC’s decision to offer up new shows for binge watching on OTT first could signal a tipping point for other major programmers.

“Finally, the BBC has become the first major linear network to announce plans to go binge-first with new seasons, favoring internet over linear viewers. We presume HBO is not far behind the BBC,” the company wrote. “In short, it’s becoming an internet TV world, which presents both challenges and opportunities for Netflix as we strive to earn screen time.”

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HBO, of course, has expanded its distribution well beyond the pay-TV premium model and has built up around 1 million subscribers for its HBO Now direct-to-consumer service. But regardless of the platform, HBO still releases its series one episode at a time and has seen a great deal of buzz around appointment TV series like Game of Thrones.

For now, HBO Now’s experience holds mostly true to that of the HBO linear channel but it’s possible HBO might consider trying out new release schedules with HBO Now, like Netflix suspects, if HBO wants to continue growing HBO Now.

After reports surfaced last year that HBO was disappointed in the growth of HBO Now, which has been hovering around 1 million subscribers for some time, the programmer assured that it’s still high on HBO Now.

“On your OTT question, we couldn't be more pleased or enthusiastic about what we are seeing this year. We have seen substantial growth with HBO Now. We expect that to continue, of course, across all of our digital distribution, including HBO Go,” said HBO CEO Richard Plepler during the company’s third-quarter earnings call.