IBC 2010 – AMSTERDAM. “In an ideal new world we have an ideal model where you subscribe once [to a premium TV service] and use it anywhere; on a set-top box, iPad and other devices,” said Linda Jensen, chief executive, HBO Central Europe, “and such a premium package would extend subscriber lifecycle.”
Speaking during the Friday Keynote session, Jensen painted a picture of an ideal world where viewers would stick to premium TV services. “This would be a driver for over-the-top premium services and in the transition to internet based services people would ignore torrent sites. But I realise that would be quite a sunny day.”
In reality, premium TV operators, as all other content providers, have to fight piracy of their products, in one country more than in the other. “European piracy is extremely great and in our market it is a big problem.” The problems in Europe vary by country with some countries scoring very high percentages of illegal use, e.g. Italy with 32% consumption of pirated product and Spain being the worst with 46%.
HBO Central Europe is fighting back with new products and more local content. This year, the company introduced HBO Go, an on-demand service over multiple platforms. Taking an active role, HBO CE is not waiting to see what will happen. “Questions content people ask: can big brands take their time? Can I come late to the party Will over-the-top bring additional market entrants?”
Content owners are visited by the ghosts of business models past and might try to hold on to these as long as possible, purely out of uncertanty. “Strong brands remain very important,” according to Jensen. Original programming is important as well as the ability to play on multiple platforms for the long term. “The creation of net habitat is important to the young generation; a subscriber base that can be leverage over onto the internet.” But – don’t trade today’s dollar into ‘internet cents’, she warned.
Local product is also important and Linda showed HBO CE is active with, for instance, a Romanian version of “In Therapy”. So far, the company has done extremely well, quadrupling business in last 6 years profiting from the tremendous growth in platforms, especially satellite DTH and now IPTV and digital cable.