Time Warner Says HBO Now Service Nears 1 Million Subscribers

  • Network starting to offer streaming product in Latin America
  • Company may put other channels online outside U.S., CEO says

Time Warner Inc. said its HBO Now streaming service is nearing 1 million subscribers, up from the 800,000 at year end.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes announced the new tally Tuesday at a Deutsche Bank investor conference in Palm Beach, Florida. The previous year-end total came in a Feb. 10 conference call.

HBO charges $15 a month for the online service, part of the company’s effort to counteract so-called cord-cutting and compete with Internet services including Netflix Inc. and Hulu. HBO is increasing its original programming by 50 percent to 600 hours annually. Bewkes said Tuesday. The online product isn’t taking viewers from its conventional pay-TV service, which signed up about 2.7 million new domestic subscribers last year, he said.

Bewkes said he didn’t expect the online HBO service to contribute to profit this year. The company is reinvesting in new markets and programming, he said.

“It’s a successful product,” Bewkes said. “We’re going to push on it.”

The surge in spending is part of a broader industry trend in which programmers like New York-based Time Warner, also the owner of Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros., are having to increase production of original shows to combat viewer losses to Internet services and satisfy existing cable and satellite TV audiences.

Time Warner’s TNT and TBS networks, part of the Turner division, plan to double their production budgets to $1 billion, Bewkes said.

As part of the effort to reach new viewers, Time Warner is considering offering other networks online outside the U.S. The HBO streaming service is expanding to Mexico, Brazil, Spain and Argentina this year, Bewkes said.

Time Warner fell 1.2 percent to $68.72 at 12:25 p.m. in New York. The stock had gained 7.6 percent this year as of Monday.

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