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Mipcom: Richard Plepler Receives Vanguard Award, Talks Future of HBO, ‘Game of Thrones’

Richard Plepler has talked about the future of the company as a premium pay TV service, a direct-to-consumer service, and a service that needs to plan for what happens after “Game of Thrones.”

The HBO boss was at Mipcom in Cannes to receive the Variety Vanguard Award for his contribution to the TV business. In a wide-ranging keynote discussion with Cynthia Littleton, manager editor of television for Variety, he talked about the new competitive environment and said 20% of its subs growth has come in the past five years “and this year we’re on track to have our biggest year ever.”

Addressing the competition from Netflix he said consumers who love entertainment will gravitate to multiple services. “We’re not trying to be Netflix,” he said. “They have grown, we’ve grown. The reason I think we over-index in each other’s homes is [our customers] are entertainment junkies, they like great entertainment. It’s never been about them or us.”

Plepler talked about having a mixed ecology of premium pay, direct-to-consumer, and SVOD, depending on the territory, alongside the branded blocks and channels deals it has, such as with Sky in the U.K. HBO will start running some its international originals in the U.S. the company said today and  Plepler noted locally-originated fare outperforms even the biggest U.S. titles locally.

The biggest HBO show remains “Game of Thrones” and Plepler fought shy of talking about what happens next with the franchise aside from noting there are five groups of writers looking at potential spin-offs or content from the same universe.

Asked if he would dish any details on what happens next he said: “No. Other than to say it’s a fantastic group of writers and talent, most of whom have lived inside the Thrones eco-system so are very, very familiar with its intricacies.”

He added that he has seen some early ideas on paper. “I think we will find with this embarrassment of [writing] riches an exciting property for us to moves forward with,” he said. “We are looking some things, I have read a couple of early bibles and I’m excited about what I’ve seen.”

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