EXCLUSIVE. Broadband TV News understands that HBO and Dutch cable operator Ziggo are preparing the launch of a Dutch premium movie and TV series channel under the HBO brand. The offer could include the HBO Go service bringing content to multiple screens including iPads.
Preparations for the new services seem to be at an early stage with international executive search firm Ebbinge recruiting members for the team of managing directors including a general manager, financial, sales and marketing executives. Just recently, the various job openings were advertised, but have since been withdrawn as the various positions are apparently filled. Although no name for the company involved was mentioned, Broadband TV News received confirmation that the recruitment was for the new HBO office in the Netherlands for which job interviews were held at the Ziggo HQ in Utrecht, home of the country’s largest cable operator.
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Ziggo said there was no statement to be made. Similarly, a spokesperson for HBO denied to discuss the matter.
Rumours about a possible HBO venture in The Netherlands started to circulate when buyers from Dutch broadcasters visiting the MIPTV market last April found there were suddenly no new programmes available for the Dutch market without a reason being given by the HBO sales force.
The joint venture between HBO and Ziggo comes to no surprise as the two companies have been working together for some time on the HBO On Demand S-VOD service since late last year.
It seems likely that HBO Netherlands will launch a multiplex of digital channels, both in SD and HD alongside the lines of similar offerings in Central Europe and the US. It could also include a Dutch version of the HBO Go TV everywhere service. Ziggo has been showing special apps for both iPhone and iPads that make such an on-the-go service possible.
Interestingly, Ziggo has recently announced it is to drop nationwide distribution of all regional public broadcasters and to restrict their distribution to their respective footprints. The announcement sparked some controversy among viewers, but Broadband TV News understands this might be a way to make bandwidth available for the new services.
The launch of Dutch HBO premium channels means a new competitor to Chellomedia’s Film1 bouquet. Film1 has access to titles from all major studios with the exception of Sony Pictures. Chellomedia also has contracts in place with a number of independent production companies as well as with Dutch producers.
At the moment, HBO is active in Eastern Europe with its headquarters in Budapest, Hungary with Linda Jensen at the helm. The company is fully owned by Time Warner through Home Box Office Inc and operates a number of premium channels across Eastern and Central Europe.
HBO Central Europe currently provides basic and premium channels to 14 countries in the region, including: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia.
HBO CE offers five movie channels, HBO, HBO2, HBO Comedy, Cinemax and Cinemax2, and a digital package (HBO HD, HBO2 HD, HBO Comedy HD, Cinemax HD, Cinemax2 HD, broadcasting HBO and Cinemax programming in HD, HBO On Demand, HBO’s subscription video on demand service and HBO Go, HBO’s broadband S-VOD service).