HBO's own red wedding

HBO Gone: CTO leaves after HBO outsources streaming service

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HBO CTO Otto Berkes quit his job Tuesday after news broke that the cable network is outsourcing the development of its online streaming service, which is set to debut next spring.

HBO had announced in October that it wants to go directly to consumers in 2015, selling them a new streaming service that wouldn’t be part of a traditional cable bundle and would more closely competes with Netflix’s video service. At the time, many assumed that the service would be based on HBO Go, the network’s existing TV Everywhere service for cable subscribers.

However, Fortune reported Tuesday that HBO’s leadership decided to outsource the development of the service to MLBAM instead. The Major League Baseball subsidiary already powers streaming services for WWE and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network as well MLB’s own streaming service. Executives didn’t have confidence in Berkes and his team to pull off the launch of HBO’s forthcoming streaming service, according to the report.

It didn’t take long for Berkes to respond; Variety relayed news of his exit just hours after the original report came out. The industry publication quoted a memo sent out by Berkes, which reads in part:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]“This is a change in direction from what I planned with HBO and the approach will not utilize my overall capabilities. Therefore, I feel that this is the right time for me to move on from HBO.”[/blockquote]

2 Responses to “HBO Gone: CTO leaves after HBO outsources streaming service”

  1. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed in this news. I was hoping that HBO was finally getting serious about creating a real Netflix competitor. However, by outsourcing to MLBAM, they are also outsourcing much of their potential innovation in this space. For instance, I watched a talk by Netflix’s encoding manager on YouTube describing how they invented a whole new system of quality control for encoding streams. Something like that is much less likely to happen for HBO if they just take a white label solution.

    It’s good that there is a white label streaming service provider out there, but you’d expect only companies that are not attempting to become one of the major streaming services of the future to take that route. While it sounds like firing Berkes was a good idea, I think that once again HBO is showing the world how little vision and ambition it really has.

  2. Otto was a terrible leader who promoted conflict among the teams. His team in Seattle created a coder Utopia where engineers call all the shots and products never ship. HBO would have never have realesed a over the too product with Berkes at the helm. Him leaving along with Drew Angeloff is the best thing to happen to HBO since Game of Thrones.