Case Study: HBO’s innovative solutions for cost effective online content distribution

2011-11-24. Sushil Kamampati is a Digital Media and Pay TV strategist in India. In his speech today, he introduces some innovative solutions for cost effective online content distribution with the example of HBO.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | November 24, 2011

In the beginning of his presentation, Kamampati introduces some premium TV brands in the US before pointing out that the largest premium network in the country is HBO, which has the highest number of subscribers. He then introduces the history of HBO: started broadcasting in Nov 1972, began satellite distribution in 1975, offered multiplex channels in 1991, etc. HBO subscribers can mainly get theatrical blockbusters, films, documentaries, sports.

HBO content is released on multiple portals, so it is important for HBO to maintain a premium edge online. Thus, HBO strives to ensure high tech quality, identify its brand and maintain exclusivity.

Firstly, to ensure high tech quality, the crucial points are to use best-of-breed encoding tools, test intermediate and consumer video with distributor, have quality check of every file that is delivered, and monitor video availability, image and text correctness on platform. Secondly, using distinctive animated “open” before videos and displaying HBO logo and branding the titles on web pages are practised to protect its brand. Last but not least, to maintain exclusivity, the online contents have to be made only available to subscribers. There should be no third-party advertisement and no disaggregation of content.

Kamampati then gives the distinction between video entertainment and text news. Entertainment has a longer shelf life, while text is easier to distribute. There are possibly multiple sources for a given news story, and text news has regional and language boundaries. However, the common challenge is ensuring quality and preserving brand identification.

The online news environment is then depicted by Kamampati. At present, there is a plethora of news aggregators on multiple platforms and contents from multiple sources are intermingled. There is also a lack of curation, so important stories can get lost and loss of quality may be resulted. Kamampati opines that the challenges to being exclusive are aggregated content, third party advertisements and the lack of a subscription model.

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