Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter Communications, said that in the middle of pressures in the telecommunications industry, businesses like Viacom need to improve their curation efforts. “Viacom is in a position where it has relatively expensive content — it has lots of it — and it hasn’t been curating it very well,” Rutledge said. “It may not have the stickiness that most groups do. They’re going to have to rebuild that. So they’re in a dangerous moment.”
Richard Plepler, who is the chairman and CEO of HBO, said that data and curation have played important roles in the success of HBO. Rutledge and Plepler spoke from the DealBook Conference conducted in New York City, which was moderated by CNBC anchor and The New York Times columnist, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and hosted by editors of The Times.
“Over 70 percent of our viewing is theatrical movies,” Plepler said. “If you can understand that a consumer likes a sci-fi genre or comedy genre … to the extent that you can go out to that consumer and say, ‘Here’s what’s coming,’ or, ‘Let us introduce you to “Westworld,”’ that is tremendously effective in cutting churn and in stickiness, keeping that subscriber with us for an extended amount of time.”
The advent of online viewing has offered HBO access to data on the preferences of viewers, but the data is not used by the producers and authors to guide storylines of the content. The data helps HBO to differentiate their brand and make customers happy via curation. “We’re as good as the people who come in to work with us. The magic of talent is out there. Our job is to get it in our doors,” Plepler further added. “Every Friday there’s something on our desk that we didn’t know about Monday. That’s one of the exciting privileges of being in my chair.”
It is to be noted that under the leadership of Plepler, HBO has offered the most popular subscription VOD products like Cinemax on Demand, HBO on Demand, MAX GO and HBO GO. Under his guidance, HBO has offered hits like “True Detective”, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”, and “Game of Thrones”, and has embraced latest technologies.
OTT and On-Demand content is important, but bundles will be there, as they are the most efficient way to sell and buy content. “We’re not expecting that people are going to watch “Game of Thrones” or “Westworld” on phones, but you can catch up on “John Oliver”,” Rutledge commented. “We are selling lots of cable. We’re growing our premium service business ….we really have a lot of confidence that all of our products can continue to grow.”