HBO reportedly seeking better deals with pay-TV operators to drive growth

Jon Snow in seemingly hopeless straits in this Game of Thrones battle scene. Image: HBO
"Game of Thrones" is by far HBO's most popular series and it will leave a major hole when it ends in two seasons. Image: HBO

HBO has seen big gains in subscribers in recent years but the network’s pay-TV deals meant it didn’t see much of the money from those new sign-ups. According to a new Bloomberg report, HBO is seeking to rectify that it renegotiates carriage deals with major operators.

The report cites sources who say the reworked carriage agreements will be designed to drive the majority of growth for HBO, outpacing the performance of its HBO Now live-streaming service.

HBO recently signed a new deal with AT&T and DirecTV and, according to the report, is nearing a new agreement with Charter, which now owns Time Warner Cable. HBO will also have to soon negotiate a new agreement with Comcast. In addition, the report said that HBO is talking with Hulu about being included in the company’s upcoming virtual MVPD offering while noting that HBO parent Time Warner recently bought a 10 percent stake in Hulu.

HBO’s recent deal with AT&T includes carriage of Cinemax and will place both channels on the upcoming live web TV offering DirecTV Now.

"Our agreement with HBO is groundbreaking in the pay-TV and wireless industries as well as the premium category," said Dan York, chief content officer for AT&T, in a statement. "With this agreement, we have created easy access to subscribe and consume HBO's premium content across all of our platforms.”

"The entertainment landscape has evolved and we are excited to innovate on both AT&T's traditional and new platforms to further provide premium quality, extraordinary value and accessibility to viewers anywhere,” said Simon Sutton, president of global distribution for HBO, in a statement.

Of course, HBO is facing a lot more competition from services like Netflix and Amazon that are also investing heavily in original series. Netflix in particular is mounting a well-financed assault to grab viewers by spending a whopping $6 billion on original content this year.

But Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said earlier this year that his company will ramp up its production of original series. Bewkes said that Time Warner Inc. will increase the number of original series it produces to around 600 across all distribution platforms, including Turner Networks channels, which represents a 50 percent increase over what Time Warner is currently producing.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg report

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