Bewkes: HBO Now Tops 2M OTT Subscribers

Related: Time Warner Earnings Down Despite Revenue Growth

HBO's stand alone over-the-top streaming product HBO Now has more than 2 million subscribers, according to Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

The company's Turner networks are also seeing OTT growth, adding nearly 2 million customers through new virtual MVPDs.

Speaking on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts, Bewkes provided the updated number, which compares to the 800,000 subscribers the company disclosed having a year ago.

HBO Go has been distributed by a number of partners, including Amazon, which was added recently.

"It's accelerated very quickly, and I think it shows what we've said all along, which is the more opportunities we have to distribute HBO through a multitude of different distribution services and give our consumers the option to get it however and wherever they want, the better it is for our brand," HBO CEO Richard Plepler said on the call.

"There will be other digital partners that you will see announced in the coming weeks and months and that's why we're so optimistic not only about our traditional business but our OTT business as well," Plepler said.

Time Warner's Turner networks are aggressively pursuing streaming viewers by making deals with new virtual MVPDs. Bewkes declined to estimate whether virtual MVPD subs would grow faster than the number of traditional subs was eroding.

John Martin, CEO of Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting unit, said Turner is expecting to increase its distribution revenue this year but said its outlook didn't include a material benefit from those virtual MVPDs.

"Certainly, there's an opportunity for that between DirecTV Now, Sling and Sony. Each of them have really started to gain traction very recently, proving that there is consumer demand for smaller video packages with top networks at lower prices," Martin said.

"I think if you aggregate the number of subscribers for the three, we're approaching 2 million now in the United States. And if new OTT offerings can combine attractive pricing and packaging with great on-demand content, better interfaces and easier navigation, we think we can attract new subs into the ecosystem," Martin said.

"And importantly we think a lot of these subs are not cannibalizing the existing subscribers. So that's a great opportunity for Turner to take shares since we're in all the major virtual MVPDs that have launched to date, and we expect to be in those packages with wide consumer appeal," he added.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.