Zitter: HBO Go Coming To Latin America, Asia

HBO is taking "TV Everywhere" to more international destinations, with plans to launch HBO Go in Latin America and Asia in the coming months following its debut in Central Europe, chief technology officer Bob Zitter said.

Zitter, speaking on a panel at the Content & Communications World conference here Wednesday, said HBO has about 40 million U.S. subscribers and another 40 million in the rest of the world. The HBO Go service in Europe is available through affiliated pay-TV operators in Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia. 

"For our business, it has always been important that we continue to provide value to our subscribers, as we sell wholesale through our distributors," he said. "We chose to focus on growing our business without cannibalizing the good business that we have today."

In the U.S., Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems remain the two biggest operators that don't offer subscribers access to the TV Everywhere service.

Asked what their objections are, Zitter said, "What's been said publicly is really all I can say. We don't ask for any money for HBO Go. But you have to work through the negotiation terms."

Delivering the authenticated service, which is hosted by HBO, is a complicated process, Zitter said. Each device is different and there aren't any video encoding standards for online video.

"Many people cringe when I say this, but creating and delivering video for the Internet is more expensive than traditional TV," Zitter said.

Still, HBO Go will be expanding to additional devices, with Zitter mentioning plans to develop an app for the Android Honeycomb operating system for tablets. The programmer currently offers video through web browsers, iPhone and iPad apps, Android mobile phones and will soon be rolling it out on Roku set-tops, Samsung Internet-connected TVs and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

"Theoretically you want to be on every device you can. Practically, you can only be on a device that has significant market penetration," Zitter said.

Also on the panel, "Over-the-Top: Redefining TV or Just a Distraction?", Elemental Technologies CEO and co-founder Sam Blackman said that "while there's a ton of hype around multiscreen video, there's not a lot of monetization."

"Once upon a time -- there was one format, one standard, one viewing location -- one glowing rectangle: the TV," Blackman said. "Then 18 months ago Apple launched the iPad."

HBO uses Elemental's encoding software, which runs on off-the-shelf graphics processing units, to prepare video for HBO Go.