Cheeky, cheeky, Netflix, putting one of your own original series here. The day may come when we see HBO shows available to stream on Netflix. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day.
Not now that more Americans can watch Netflix than HBO.
Netflix has just reported a gain of more than two million American subscribers since the beginning of January, putting it at a respectable 29 million accounts, which is a couple million ahead of HBO’s most recently announced numbers: 28 million.
On the face of it, this isn’t particularly surprising: HBO is a premium cable service, so the buy in to get it in the first place is considerable compared to the average dozen you’ll be paying monthly for Netflix (depending on whether you opt for both streaming and DVD rental). On the other hand, you HBO might just get handed to you depending on how your cable package is set up. On the other other hand, if you can shell out for HBO then getting Netflix in addition will probably not represent a huge investment. It be interesting to see where the overlap in those markets lies.
The reason why this is a salient number at all isn’t simply because Netflix and HBO have been at loggerheads for some time now, but also because there have been a lot of calls lately for HBO to adopt a subscriber system that exists independently of cable packages, allowing its users to stream their shows directly without having to buy into a TV cable hookup. And while I’m not entirely certain that this is an actual big deal, or just a rising trend in the nerd community (things certainly only seem to have really come to the fore since the popularity of Game of Thrones, which could easily be correlation or causation), I’ll state unambiguously that I believe it to be the future of television delivery whether television production studios like HBO want it to be or not.
It’s important to note, as well, that Netflix still falls behind HBO internationally, 114 million to 36 million. But when Netflix is very closely edging you in your home market, and is taking baby steps into the world of original content, you might want to start to think about what exactly it means.