HBO: a pioneer’s perspective

HBO-logo3D with glasses is effectively dead, while it is doubtful consumers want 4K, in the view of Bob Zitter, EVP and CTO, HBO.

In a wide-ranging keynote entitled Technology: catalyst for change in TV, he said that 4K is seen as the next big thing because digital cinema wants it, or indeed 8K, in the production of movies.

However, for TV viewers the difference between 4K and HD can only be discerned on sets of at least 60-70 inches, and only 25% of homes in the US have room for such sets.

Looking at other areas of where TV is going, Zitter said that when comparing on demand and linear, the latter will not go away, as people are spending a lot of time watching sports.

Regarding the issue of cord cutting, he didn’t think that the business models would change. “One thing is constant: at the end of the day, consumers don’t care about where the content comes from, just the content.”

Zitter spoke at some length about HBO Go, the model for which was developed five years ago.

It was becoming clear at the time that IP technology was changing video distribution and enabling new devices to exist.

Today, US homes have on average 11 connected devices, with the number growing by 30% a year.

HBO Go is available to HBO subscribers at no additional cost and consists of 2,000 titles at any time, plus a further 700 from Minimax.

The service is now available outside the US in Europe (with recent launches in the Netherlands and Nordics) and Latin America and has just made its debut in Hong Kong.

HBO has itself been a pioneer in technology, launching satellite TV in 1975 and digital services in 1992, as well as HD in the US in partnership CBS.

HBO currently has 115 million subscribers worldwide, 41 million of who are in the US.