Even though cord cutting is on the rise, many people say it’s too tough for a “niche” streaming service to survive. You can just have service dedicated to one network, they’ll tell you. But you couldn’t convince HBO of that. In less than two years on the market, their streaming app has hit a pretty big mark – 2 million subscribers.
At the end of 2015, the $15 a month service had only 800,000, which means HBO more than doubled their subscriber base in just a year. Of course, it still trails far behind Netflix’s 71 million subscribers, but it’s still a pretty respectable number when you consider that it costs more than Netflix and has a fraction of the library, and consider that HBO still has tens of millions of traditional cable subscribers.
Richard Plepler, HBO’s CEO told analysts that the streaming service’s “churn rate,” or the number of people canceling the service compared to new signups was the lowest ever its ever been. He added that viewers were watching a wide variety of the network’s content too, not just hits like Game of Thrones and Westworld. Plepler did attribute the Anthony Hopkins hit Westerworld with bringing subscribers to the service “in droves” though. The first season of that show was the most watched of any show in HBO’s history, so it likely did play a large part.
HBO actually put off developing a streaming app for some time because they feared angering big cable companies. If HBO content was available elsewhere, they thought, people would just cancel their cable. But as more and more people decided they could live without a cable package, HBO knew they had to act. The news of HBO’s success with their streaming app comes not long after new avenues were announced for digital downloads of their most popular shows.