Netflix Leadership Open To Working With HBO GO, Unthreatened By Verizon Redbox

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Buried a few pages into the Netflix earnings report was an open door to a very interesting possibility: Netflix and HBO GO collaboration.

“As for HBO, they continue to do great work with HBO GO, which is now available to most US households that subscribe to the premium service,” the report read. “While we compete for content and viewing time with HBO, it is also possible we will find opportunities to work together – just as we do with other networks.”

Now, this is a far cry from announcing a partnership, but it would be a game-changing collaboration if it happened.  Netflix has over 24 million streaming members in the U.S. HBO GO has over 29 million subscribers. A little over a month ago, our own Ryan Lawler asked how much people would be willing to pay for a standalone HBO GO.

What would they pay for joint access to Netflix and HBO GO?

While Netflix is enamored with HBO GO, the feelings may not be mutual. HBO GO is owned by Time Warner, and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes has publicly disparaged Netflix, likening it to the “Albanian army.” A year later, Bewkes commented that Netflix and other distribution services “can actually add value to all of us.” Who knows what he thinks now.

In the earnings report, Netflix executives seemed unfazed by non-HBO competitors, noting that Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video have not yet gained “meaningful traction relative to our viewing hours.” As for the soon-to-launch RedBox Instant by Verizon, the Netflix report commented that they “will face a big challenge to break into the top 3 of subscription streaming services.”

The challenge will be even greater if Netflix and HBO GO have any sort of partnership.

Update: HBO Senior VP of Corporate Affairs Jeff Cusson tells me, “HBO is not in discussions and has no plans to work with Netflix.” Which, of course, raises the question: why would Netflix praise HBO and mention the possibility of working together in a shareholders letter if they aren’t even having discussions with HBO?