Rumours that Spotify may diversify from music to TV have cropped up almost since the service began four years ago.
The latest peddler is Danish public broadcaster TV2, whose Beep tech site says it has learned that Spotify is negotiating to distribute HBO’s upcoming HBO Nordic over-the-top pay-TV service across Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.
Spotify’s PR folks are being strategically coy, telling paidContent: “There’s always a lot of speculation surrounding Spotify but it’s something we never comment on.” HBO Nordic’s Danish reps also gave us a no-comment. Curious.
The notion that Spotify could branch out from music has always tended to pay more debt to fantasy (and, in fairness, to Spotify’s disruptive qualities) than to fact. Right now, Spotify’s application has no apparent way to deliver video.
But could there be truth this time around?
Besides the partners’ refusal to debunk the report, what is true is that Spotify has considerable clout across the region. At home in Sweden, the service has become music labels’ biggest revenue source; almost 90 percent of music revenue comes from streaming.
Spotify’s billing relationships with several million users throughout the region could prove attractive to HBO as it looks to export its programming on a legal subscription basis.
In fact, that billing relationship alone could be appealing enough for HBO – despite Spotify’s inability to offer video, Spotify customers could nevertheless use HBO Nordic on other platforms and devices. If HBO rode Spotify for bundling in this way, it would be highly ironic, since Spotify itself is desperately seeking bundled-billing partners.
If it works at home, then Spotify could try exporting the TV idea elsewhere, just like it has with music. That would broaden Spotify’s base considerably to becoming a multi-media subscription entertainment company – but it would also put it on a collision course with some far more powerful rivals, and put it at risk of focus creep.
Spotify offering HBO Nordic could also put it at odds with its most important regional partner…
Scandinavian telco TeliaSonera – which has a Spotify bundling deal – already plans to offer HBO Nordic itself to its 900,000 TV customers and on the web for €10 per month.
Recently-announced HBO Nordic, launching in mid-October, will offer HBO shows like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and True Blood outside of pay-TV subscription but for internet subscription or on-demand transactions, right after U.S. premiere.
Netflix prefaced HBO’s announcement of HBO Nordic by announcing it will also go live in Scandinavia, marking the first time HBO and Netflix squarely will compete for the same customers on the internet.
HBO Nordic will also come pre-installed on Samsung devices.
Comcast product management executive director Mike Berkley became Spotify’s product VP in April.