How HBO IT drives revenue: Strategy snapshot

A peek at HBO Go, an IT-led initiative that paid off
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“Game of Thrones” fans will likely recognize the fourth and final in our series of IT revenue-generation strategy snapshots: HBO Go. It’s also a great example of an IT-led initiative that required close collaboration and partnership with teams across the business in order to get off the ground.

According to a recent report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, “While a number of HBO’s executives believed in the digital future, others feared its impact on their existing revenue streams.” The ultimate success of HBO Go, led by then-CIO Michael Gabriel, also depended on a shared vision and executive support from CEO Jeff Bewkes (now CEO of Time Warner) and CFO Bill Nelson. 

Execution of the project also included “Time Warner’s digital media management committee for developing standards for digital libraries; the broadcast technologies and operations group for execution. IT handled software development, rights management, financial systems, and affiliate distribution systems. Tech ops owned the standards for encoding the content, asset management, and the process of getting assets to distributors. Business development, marketing, creative services, program planning, business affairs, finance, HR, legal, and affiliate sales departments were also involved.” Truly, HBO Go required a team effort. 

Snapshot: HBO Go

What it is: The streaming service of HBO content launched in 2010 at a time when, according to the report, “it was clear that digital distribution of content would disrupt the video industry just as it already had the music industry.” 

Challenge and opportunity: In order to get ahead of this trend, Gabriel needed to convince affiliates that a streaming service would not negatively impact customer relationships. Also, the report notes, “While Gabriel understood what the technology was and wasn’t capable of when they began, they couldn’t predict the timing of when full streaming at high quality would be viable. But by being the leader, they had the opportunity to establish their own standards and do things the way they thought they should be done.”

Outcomes: Partnering with the business to stay one step ahead of digital disruption was a huge success for HBO. As the report highlights, “HBO’s influence in building industry momentum to leverage rather than fall victim to Internet distribution was significant. HBO Go, HBO Now, and the value of HBO’s content were mentioned as key factors in AT&T’s intended acquisition of Time Warner.”

Download the full report, “Revenue-generating CIOs: Smart strategies to grow the business,” for more inspiration, or follow our snapshot series here.

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.  

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