In a surprising turn of events, 2023 witnessed a significant shift in the relationship between streaming giants HBO and Netflix. HBO, known for its exclusive content, has begun licensing some of its shows to Netflix.
This decision has left many wondering about the rationale behind it and what it means for the future of streaming. In a recent interview with Casey Bloys, the head of HBO and Max, we got a glimpse into the thinking behind this unexpected move and what it might entail.
The Background: HBO Shows on Netflix
Since July, Netflix subscribers have had access to a selection of HBO shows, including popular titles like “Insecure,” “Ballers,” “Band of Brothers,” and “The Pacific.” This collaboration between two streaming behemoths raised eyebrows in the entertainment industry, as it marked a departure from HBO’s traditional exclusivity.
The Shift in Licensing Strategy
Casey Bloys shed light on the decision to license HBO shows to Netflix. He explained that the industry had been moving away from the concept of having all content exclusively on one platform, which had been the conventional wisdom for the past decade.
Instead, they are now looking to replicate the windowing of content, akin to practices from previous years. The shift reflects a change in perspective, as content creators are beginning to see the benefits of expanding their reach.
Historically, HBO has syndicated many of its shows, allowing them to reach wider audiences through different channels. Bloys referenced the syndication of hits like “Sex and the City” and the sale of “Band of Brothers” to the History Channel as examples. Moreover, HBO had previously experimented with selling its programming to Prime Video in 2015.
These initial licensing arrangements with Netflix were viewed as “experiments,” and it appears they have been beneficial for both the shows and Netflix. However, Bloys emphasized that any licensing would be co-exclusive, meaning that HBO Originals will not be leaving HBO Max for Netflix exclusively.
Boosting HBO Shows on Max
One intriguing outcome of this collaboration is the boost in viewership and engagement that HBO shows on HBO Max have experienced since their arrival on Netflix. Bloys noted that shows like “Insecure” and “Ballers” saw a significant spike in popularity, even though no additional marketing efforts were made on HBO Max’s part.
For instance, “Ballers,” which concluded over a decade ago, surged to the seventh spot on Nielsen’s charts. This popularity resurgence can be attributed to the exposure these shows gained on Netflix, where fresh content tends to generate high viewership and engagement.
Limitations on Licensing
While HBO has embraced licensing for certain shows, fans should not expect recent smash hits like “Succession” or “The White Lotus” to make their way to Netflix anytime soon. Bloys expressed doubts about licensing such recent and critically acclaimed titles. However, there is a possibility that earlier seasons of series like “True Detective” could be licensed ahead of a new season’s premiere for marketing purposes.
Bloys emphasized the need to strike a balance and avoid oversaturating the market, where viewers might adopt a “wait until it comes here” approach. This cautious approach ensures that HBO retains its unique appeal and value.
In conclusion, the decision to license HBO shows to Netflix marks a significant shift in the streaming landscape. It reflects the evolving strategies of content creators and their recognition of the benefits of expanding their reach across multiple platforms.
While HBO Originals remains exclusive to HBO Max, the collaboration has breathed new life into older shows and opened up exciting possibilities for future content licensing. The streaming wars continue to evolve, and viewers stand to benefit from an increasingly diverse range of content choices.