Last week, I took a close look at HBO. Although I did ask the question of responsibility over content, I find HBO’s strategies in the quickly changing world of television to be much more interesting subjects of discussion. With the most recent changes to the world of television, HBO has partnered with Apple to launch its own streaming service called HBO NOW. The goal is to allow those without cable services to access HBO’s content, but the affects on Time Warner’s other networks remains to be seen, as it is unknown how many consumers will drop their cable subscriptions to make a complete shift to streaming. But is HBO NOW only about competing with streaming services or is it another way to incentivize consumers to buy content over piracy?
Television and the world of traditional entertainment consumption has undergone industry changing developments over the last decade. From the advent of TiVo and DVR to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, the way people watch their television is disrupting the systems of distribution and advertising that has allowed the world of television to thrive. Most recently the role of streaming has led to discussion about the impending death of television as we know it, with focus groups revealing that content and availability are most valued. Streaming services provide these benefits by allowing on demand viewing through a laptop, but what about when there is no wifi connection or the service is unavailable?
One of the ethical issues that I am considering in my discussion of HBO is piracy. While the options for entertainment consumption are ever changing, there are still people who do not have access to the programs they want to watch. As a result, content piracy has been a large issue in the world of television and film. Is it right for people to illegally download the content they want if they have no other means of watching? What about when people do have other options?
For those interested in learning more about how money is made by television networks here is a helpful video interview with the founder of USA Networks, Kay Koplovitz: Although HBO’s revenue sources are a little different because of its premium subscription based model, it is helpful to see how cable networks make their money to understand the influence of these developments.
Additionally, I wonder if HBO is being innovative enough. By offering a streaming option, HBO is indeed ahead of the curve in terms of other networks. But NBC and CBS are hot on its tail, and I wonder if there is more HBO can be doing to be ahead of its network and streaming competitors. Do you think HBO can be doing more to be different? How might HBO’s relationship with Apple influence its later innovations?
Feature Image: Found at http://www.rankopedia.com/That’s-all-folks!-Best-Looney-Tunes-Cartoon/CandidateData/5407/.htm. From the Looney Tunes episode Robin Hood Daffy.