Since launching HBO Go on the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices last spring, premium cable network HBO has seen a massive increase in the number of viewers tuning in to watch its programming on their PCs, mobile devices and increasingly on connected TV platforms.
Before a press screening of the network’s newest original movie, Game Change, HBO Co-President Eric Kessler gave some details about viewership on the company’s streaming service. According to Kessler, original programming makes up about 75 percent of all viewing on the platform, with movies contributing another 20 percent and sports programming taking the final 5 percent.
It might seem obvious that HBO original programming would be a big draw on the service. After all, HBO Go allows viewers to catch up on current shows like True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and the recently introduced Luck just hours after they air on TV. It also has every episode of every series that the network has ever produced, meaning that viewers can re-watch classic HBO series like The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Six Feet Under whenever they want.
But HBO also has a pretty large film library for its subscribers to choose from, including a large number of new release films — those that have been released over the past two years or so. And when viewers do watch movies on HBO Go, it’s those new releases that they’re drawn to: Kessler said that about 80 percent of all film viewing comes from new releases like Rio or Something Borrowed.
In that respect, HBO is clearly differentiated from streaming services like Netflix, which relies almost entirely on long-tail content for viewership. That will be even more true in the coming days, as Netflix sees new release movies from Disney disappear along with the expiration of its long-running Starz streaming deal.
Of course, Netflix has begun to take a page out of HBO’s playbook, by creating original programming of its own. The streaming service released its first original series, Lillyhammer, this month, and has two or three other projects in the works, including the return of Arrested Development and a U.S. re-creation of the British miniseries House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and produced by David Fincher.
Netflix still has a large lead in the device world, however, which is something that HBO is trying to change. HBO Go recently became available on Roku streaming players and Samsung TVs, and Kessler announced that the service would launch on the Xbox 360 on April 1 — which coincides with the season opener of HBO’s Game of Thrones.