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HBO expands range of platforms and devices: iconic pay cabler honored with Entertainment Hall of Fame award for continuing to innovate.

HBO helped mold the traditional pay TV business. Today HBO, who will be presented with the Hall of Fame Innovation Award for its leadership in multiplatform distribution at the Variety Home Entertainment and Digital Hall of Fame awards gala on Dec. 8, is helping to redefine it.

In April, the division of Time Warner launched HBO Now, a $15-a-month, standalone, subscription-based over-the-top service, offering every episode of every season of HBO original programming (along with recently released films and other content), without the need for a cable or satellite subscription.

The idea behind HBO Now was pretty simple, according to Sofia Chang, exec VP of worldwide digital distribution and home entertainment for HBO: "target the growing trend of broadband-only subscribers."

"We are happy to see that the product is doing exactly that: our subscriber base consists of mostly broadband-only households and households that did not previously subscribe to HBO," she says. "The demos are also significantly younger than our traditional subs."

First launched exclusively with Apple devices, HBO Now has quickly become available across a wide-range of platforms and devices, including Google's Chromecast, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Cablevision, Roku and Verizon.

And, perhaps looking at the investments Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have made into original programming, HBO has announced this year production agreements with comedian Jon Stewart, Sesame Workshop, sports personality Bill Simmons and news service Vice, all with tie-ins to HBO Now.

Launching its own OTT service doesn't mean HBO has forsaken its pay TV roots: HBO Go, the company's TV everywhere service, has been around since 2010, and saw nearly 50% growth in registrations in 2015, Chang noted.

"It's part of our ongoing goal to offer consumers multiple ways to access HBO programming however they choose and we have been thrilled to see consumers adopting the varied options," she says. "The big takeaway is that optionality promotes growth on all fronts."

With the launch of HBO Now and the growth of HBO Go, it might be easy to forget that HBO continues to street top-shelf DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. Recently HBO re-released seasons one and two of "Game of Thrones" on Blu-ray, featuring Dolby Atmos, the object-based sound feature that allows content owners to place sounds in any position, and adapts to the placement and number of speakers in the home. It's the first TV series to take advantage of the new sound format.

"Though the DVD and Blu-ray market has matured, there is still growth potential in the U.S. and throughout the world," Chang says.

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Title Annotation:ACHIEVEMENT: HOME ENTERTAINMENT HALL OF FAME
Author:Tribbey, Chris
Publication:Variety
Date:Dec 8, 2015
Words:419
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