In a panel at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 event moderated by Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, HBO’s Eric Kessler and Microsoft’s Blair Westlake described the collaborative launch of the HBO Go app on the Xbox. Employees at both companies had a passion for the other’s offerings, and both companies recognized significant overlap in their audiences.
“Penetration of Xbox users among the HBO base is significantly higher than the national average,” said Kessler, adding that consumers add value to branded content when it’s made more accessible on their preferred device.
Likewise, Blair Westlake said that Xbox owners place value in having access to great content. “When the Xbox launched, streaming video was still new,” he noted. Over time they’ve added more sources of online video – at least 60 online streaming apps available in multiple markets around the world. Westlake said consumers spend more time watching video through their Xbox than time spent playing games. “Although,” Westlake added, “98% of viewing still takes place on something called TV.”
HBO also views their HBO Go app as adding value to their customers, putting more than 1,400 hours of content into the hands of their subscribers. According to Kessler, HBO households watch TV 21 hours longer than those without HBO, and as the network courts new subscribers they need to be available on more devices.
“Young adults are the future of HBO’s subscribers, so we need to create content for that audience,” said Kessler. “They should be able to watch their favorite shows on the devices they choose.”
As HBO looks to expand its content through multiple platforms, Kessler said consumers will seek their network’s brand for their unique offerings. According to Kessler “consumers are not going to compare us to TV networks, but rather content aggregators.” For HBO that means thinking of themselves as a technology company, so that they can collaborate with companies like Microsoft to help differentiate their offerings.