HBO has its sights set on Latin America, with network chair and CEO Richard Plepler promising to add Brazil and Argentina to its growing list of streaming territories by the end of 2016.
News of HBO’s plans to expand the HBO Go service was made public this month by Plepler during a speech at the Morgan Stanley Tech, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco. The move comes just two months after the network confirmed it will launch a subscription service in Spain this year.
HBO currently operates standalone streaming services in nine territories worldwide, including the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Colombia, Mexico, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The services operate independently of a cable subscription status — a change from HBO’s historical strategy of only offering its content digitally to those who are also subscribed to its cable channel (though in recent years it’s softened that stance considerably with the launch of HBO Now, its stand-alone app.)
The network had no further details to provide at press time.
There’s little doubt that Latin America is an increasingly important market to those companies operating in the streaming space. Netflix is already a huge force in the region, with competition ramping up as local viewers — particularly millennials — show a strong appetite for digital video content.
An estimated 119 million people over the age of 15 in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru regularly view digital video of all kinds (both long and short-form content), and they spend an average of 13 hours per week streaming content, according to a recent study by IMS Group and comScore.
At the same time, HBO is looking to squeeze out content pirates operating in the region by giving viewers access to top programming outside of costly cable packages. One of its most popular shows, Game of Thrones (pictured), broke piracy records last year when it was reportedly downloaded more than 1.5 million times in an eight-hour period following the season finale last June.
Plepler also announced at the conference that HBO and Summit Entertainment have extended their exclusive output agreement through the end of 2022, with the executive noting the continued importance of theatricals to HBO.