The Internets are ablaze this morning after comments from HBO’s CEO about users sharing their HBO Go accounts. According to most reports out there today, the company couldn’t care less who you share your account with. Share your account with everyone! Free love forever! Hurray!
The catch: that’s… not quite what he’s saying.
Here’s the relevant clip from the BuzzFeed interview:
Now, he is saying that HBO doesn’t see account sharing as a problem for their business model. Share away! But if you listen to the entire video, it becomes quite clear that there’s a silent “…for now” at the end of each sentence.
The key bit (emphasis added):
Pleper: To us, it’s a terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers, and to us, it is actually not material at all to business growth.
BuzzFeed: So the strategy is you ignore it now, with the hopes that they’ll subscribe later…
Pleper: It’s not that we’re ignoring it, and we’re looking at different ways to affect password sharing. I’m simply telling you: it’s not a fundamental problem, and the externality of it is that it presents the brand to more and more people, and gives them an opportunity hopefully to become addicted to it. What we’re in the business of doing is building addicts, of building video addicts. The way we do that is by exposing our product, our brand, our shows, to more and more people.
Translation: it’s not a problem… until we decide it’s a problem. Then we flip the switch (“we’re looking at different ways to affect password sharing”) to make password sharing more challenging, and everyone we’ve gotten hooked (“what we’re in the business of doing is building addicts”) coughs up the cash for their own account.
Hey, kid — the first one’s free!
Is there anything wrong, or evil, with this strategy? Not really. In fact, it’s pretty damned smart. It’s like an indefinitely long free trial in disguise. With HBO currently set-up to be sold only as a premium add-on to a cable bill that’s generally already pretty massive, convincing someone to get their their own account is a pretty huge hurdle. If the alternative is people pirating HBO’s shows, HBO might as well get those people comfortable with the convenience of going through the official channels.
Just don’t expect it to last forever. They’re not “building addicts” for nothing.