HBO Go beyond fashionably late to LatAm SVoD party

HBO announced the expansion of its HBO Go streaming service across Latin America and the Caribbean recently, a move which marks a bizarrely late entrance to the Latin American SVoD party. Yet it is one that the US network has been forced to make as the rapid growth of SVoD services in the region is gradually eating away at traditional TV, even while the pay TV market there is still growing.

HBO Go Latin America is now available as a standalone subscription service in 17 new countries on iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV and Xbox. However, the launch has excluded Brazil, the largest market in Latin America.

The fact that HBO is the best part of 7 years behind Netflix, which kicked off its Latin American launches in late 2011, suggests that the company was reluctant to take the plunge into SVoD in Latin America, and has been dragged kicking and screaming away from cable.

A possible reason for this strange business decision is that HBO may have been tied up in long-term contracts with pay TV operators. However, if HBO had looked ahead and anticipated the mobile streaming boom that was about to take place, rather than partnering with operators, it could have positioned itself as a viable competitor to Netflix in the region.

It is far too late to catch Netflix, but there is still plenty left for the taking, and HBO’s content is more than good enough. Rethink’s data shows Netflix at 7.8 million subscribers in Latin America last year, forecast to rise to 21.2 million by 2021.

Consumers across Latin America have been screaming out for access to HBO content on the move, and a host of news outlets across Latin America having been echoing sighs of relief.

Who knows how much revenue the company missed out on by not launching Game of Thrones and other hit series on multiple devices continent-wide, instead of limiting HBO programming to premium TV packages for so long across most of the continent.

HBO Go is usually included free as part of a pay TV package, whereas HBO Now is the standalone streaming service. This is not the case in Latin America, where HBO Go is the standalone subscription service, which we think is fitting considering TV Everywhere in the market is minimal when compared to SVoD.

The full list of additional HBO Go markets in Latin America to be announced is: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

There were 10.2 million SVoD subscribers across Latin America last year, according to our own data, which we have forecast to surge to 27.8 million by 2021. Although, this data includes Brazil, where HBO Go is still not available as a standalone option.

HBO Latin America’s EVP of distribution and media development, Francisco Smith, said, “Consumers are seeing more content on the internet every day and adopting new technologies as part of their new consumption habits. The public no longer only sees content at home but wants to take it with them everywhere, so they can see it anytime, anywhere. Consumers want easy and immediate access to content, and this online subscription to HBO GO comes to fulfill this need.”

Smith added, “Our primary goal is to provide alternatives for subscribers in the region, and we want everyone to have easy access to our content. We will continue to explore opportunities with our pay-TV affiliates and on other future platforms to expand access to HBO content.”