HBO Now Is Growing, but Not as Fast as You Think

HBO Now, HBO's over-the-top streaming service, has acquired 800,000 subscribers in its first eight months of existence.

That's not enough, though.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler mentioned that number on Time Warner's (TWX) fourth-quarter earnings call, noting that HBO Now had been a "significant contributor" to HBO's 2.7 million subscriber additions in 2015.

At the end of 2015, HBO and its sister channel, Cinemax, had more than 120 million subscribers around the world, including more than 40 million in the U.S. By comparison, Netflix (NFLX) , the service most often compared to HBO Now, had more than 75 million subscribers around the globe at the end of 2015.

That figure, which was first reported by The New York Post's Claire Atkinson, is not as much some on Wall Street expected, including media analyst Rich Greenfield.

On $TWX call, @HBO's Plepler says 800,000 #HBONOW subs today -- we have written that subs hit 1 mm after launch #churn #OTTisHard

— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) February 10, 2016

To try to boost these numbers, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Plepler noted that the company is going to boost marketing of HBO Now, which is available on platforms like Apple (AAPL) TV, Apple iOS devices, Google (GOOGL) Android and from some cable distributors, like Cablevision (CVC) and others. Plepler also noted that HBO Now will be available on Sony  (SNE) PlayStation 4 and Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox One in the early part of 2016.

The Time Warner unit is also increasing the hours of original programming on the subscription business, boosting hours by 50% in 2016. In 2016, HBO will premiere shows from John Stewart, Bill Simmons, Vice Daily and returning seasons of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, all of which Plepler said should do well on the service.

Still, 800,000 subscribers isn't as strong a performance as some expected, highlighting the fact that changing consumers' mindsets and behaviors isn't easy.

HBO recently announced an over-the-top service in Spain, with Plepler noting that it's "not a one-size-fits-all strategy." He added, "We extended our licensing deal in Canada. We have a lot of flexibility here because we own our own content."

For those wishing that the price of HBO Now, currently at $14.99 a month, would come down to help boost subscriber additions, don't hold your breath. Plepler said the premium price of the premium service wasn't changing.

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