HBO Is About to Get Closer to Its Customers, for Better and Worse

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire Photograph by Christopher T. Saunders/HBO

HBO is a premium product that people love, delivered to them by companies they hate. In the cable-TV network’s four-decade history, it has rarely had direct dealings with its customers. Now, that could all change. With the announcement last week that Time Warner will sell an HBO streaming-video service next year apart from the cable-TV bundle, the network faces the prospect of getting to know—and soothe—its audience in ways it has rarely done before.

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