HBO Go is poised to become more like Netflix

Pointed right at Netflix.
Pointed right at Netflix.
Image: HBO
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Time Warner is finally admitting that Netflix is a competitor to HBO. And now, it might create a Netflix of its own.

CEO Jeff Bewkes acknowledged the rise of his company’s competitor on this morning’s quarterly earnings call. “We think there’s an increasingly competitive and strong set of buyers out there, including Netflix,” he said. Time Warner executives rarely mention Netflix by name.

Had Time Warner’s merger with Fox come to fruition, a 21st Century Fox-Time Warner company could have offered a very formidable rival to Netflix. An online streaming video service with content from all of the two media giants’ properties would have quite an attractive library for consumers. But even though it looks like the merger isn’t happening, Bewkes suggested today that Time Warner might go ahead with a similar service of its own.

“We’re trying to be best-in-class to have a platform that could not only deliver HBO networks but also Turner network and frankly other networks,” Bewkes said. “Doesn’t have to just be ones that we own.” Though it wouldn’t be as threatening to Netflix as a combined service with Fox, Time Warner still has a lot of content across Turner and Warner Bros. that it could add to the HBO Go catalog. The company’s apparent willingness to add content created elsewhere echoes how Netflix started off (before creating its own original content).

To achieve its goals, Bewkes said that HBO is “investing in top talent,” including a large fleet of Seattle-based software developers. HBO Go saw a 35% growth in active users this quarter, and the company is expanding a similar internet-based service abroad.

Turner and Warner Bros. both have a few licensing deals already in place with Netflix. Should Time Warner decide to add more of its own content to a Netflix-like HBO Go, those shows will probably be pulled from the Netflix library.

For now, HBO Go is only available in the US, but an enhanced version of HBO Go (that also includes content from other companies) makes a lot of sense internationally, where licensing deals are not as lucrative.

Check out Glass for more on the future of TV.