HBO To Launch Standalone Streaming Service in Spain

VOD offer would go face to face with Netflix, Movistar Plus’ Yomvi

Game of Thrones Season 7 8
Courtesy of HBO

MADRID – Going head-to-head with Netflix, plus local rivals such as Movistsar Plus’ Yomvi, HBO plans to launch a standalone streaming service in Spain.

The video service would be up and running by the end of the year, Bloomberg announced Tuesday, citing HBO CEO Richard Plepler. Launch was confirmed to Variety by an HBO source.

Given its rampant piracy, Spain was once seen as a no-go territory for new pay TV ventures.

That was then. Pushed by Canal Plus’ Yomvi, and indie pic services such as Filmin, Spain’s middle classes have warmed to VOD, driving robust take-up and viewership.

Concurrently, acquiring premium pay TV box Canal Plus in 2014, Telefonica has rapidly swelled subscriptions to its pay TV service Movistar Plus to around 3.8 million clients, off the back of cut-price offers and triple or quad play packaging. Netflix launched in Spain in October.

By Christmas, Yomvi was running up over four million views – between catch-up TV and pay-per-view buys- a week in Spain.

HBO looks set to launch without some jewels in its crown, such as “Game of Thrones.” Almost since the launch of Canal Plus in 1990, HBO has held a longterm relationship with Canal Plus, which has exclusive rights to “Game of Thrones.”

But given Spain’s fantastic reception for VOD, which has pushed back piracy in the country, HBO has chosen to follow its own destiny rather than continue to license new shows to Canal Plus.

“We follow the money. We’re making a determination of where we think the most profits lie,” Pepler is quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

Exactly what shows it will offer is not entirely clear. Simon Sutton, HBO president of international and content distribution, commented to Bloomberg that he expected Spina’s streaming service to be similar to HBO Nordic, which launched in 2012 and offers HBO, Showtime, Starz and AMC Networks shows.

Given that, the future battle for VOD clients in Spain looks set to depend on a raft of factors: Pricing, cutting edge customer service technology, water-cooler shows, and services’ ability to fire up local productions.

Last October, HBO confirmed plans to launch a standalone VOD platform in Latin America and the Caribbean, starting in Colombia by year-end 2015, offering content from the HBO/MAX channels.