US premium programmer and channel operator HBO is on track for a record year, despite a blip in the number of US cable subs, co-president Eric Kessler has told TBIvision in an exclusive interview. Rolling out on-demand and digital services internationally is also high on the Time Warner-owned company’s agenda, he added.
Kessler acknowledged that HBO’s rivals have moved more heavily into original programming, but claimed that it is on track to eclipse its major rivals this year. He said: “Subscribers go up and down and some cable operators here in the US have reported a drop in the number of multichannel homes, but we’re focused on the revenue and profit of HBO. We have grown the business this year and will register record revenue and profit. In fact the profit of HBO will be more than that of Starz, Epix and Netflix combined.”
He added: “When we embarked on original programming in the mid-to-late 90s there were very few high-quality shows on basic cable and since then a lot of those channels have taken a page out of the HBO playbook.”
TBI first reported the story that HBO was buying its partners out of HBO Central Europe and internationally, it has also bought out regional partners in Asia and Latin America.
“We had a minority ownership position and were partners with various studios, but two years ago we decided to move these minority, to majority positions,” Kessler explained. “Now we own 80% of the businesses in Asia and Latin America and 100% in Central Europe and as majority owners we can manage them in a different way. There’s a lot of headroom [internationally]. There’s a lot of analogue still in our international markets and as digital gets deployed we can start to put in a multiplex of channels and deploy on- demand services.”