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Netflix Finally Has More Paid Subscribers Than HBO
by Rebecca Pahle | 11:00 am, October 22nd, 2013
Caveat: Netflix has always been cagey about releasing subscriber numbers, so we don’t know with one hundred percent certainty that they’ve finally managed to beat HBO like the Freys beat [spoiler for season three of Game of Thrones. Is this still a spoiler? It's been months. I don't even have to say it—if you've seen, you know who I'm talking about] at the Red Wedding. Sorry, too soon?
Via Bloomberg, Netflix:
“reports third-quarter results today [that would be yesterday, now] after markets close. Already the world’s largest subscription-video service, the company probably reached 30 million paying U.S. customers as of Sept. 30, according to Needham & Co. HBO, Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s premium cable-TV network, has about 28.7 million, according to researcher SNL Kagan.”
Bloomberg averaged the estimates of eight analysts and brought Netflix’s subscriber number closer to 31 million, which includes free trials but doesn’t include all the people who share accounts. Similarly, HBO’s subscriber numbers includes only those who pay for the TV channel, not people who borrow someone else’s HBOGo password so they can watch Game of Thrones. *cough* *cough*
Netflix’s numbers were boosted by their turn toward original programming; shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black have been extremely popular. They plan to bust into HBO’s arena even more by making their own movies, specifically documentaries, which Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says they’re “actively looking at.” HBO’s long been the Big Man on Campus as far as made-for-TV docs are concerned, and while I know that moving into that genre is a very serious, professional, sensible decision on Netflix’s part, I can’t help but imagine execs mooning HBO headquarters as they drive by in their Netflix-red Lamborghinis.
Frankly, I’m surprised that Netflix surpassing HBO’s paid subscribers number has taken this long. Netflix’s streaming-only plan is a mere $7.99 a month, compared to HBO’s monthly fee, which is… I don’t know, because I have Netflix and not HBO, but it’s more than eight simoleons. I imagine this’ll get people talking about HBOGo again, namely whether HBO should open it up to people who don’t want, or can’t afford, a cable package but would be more than willing to pay a few bucks a month for online access. As always, it’s a complicated issue involving advertisers, cable providers, and all sorts of crazy stuff. Still gonna (not at all because I’m an upstanding citizen) borrow that password, HBO.