HBO’s programming output increased 50% this year under new parent company AT&T, but execs say the network is still able to uphold its brand quality.
The network used to average 100 hours of original programming each year, but that number jumped to 150 hours this year, HBO programing president Casey Bloys told reporters today at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
“That’s a big leap,” said Bloys, but “there’s not one show we have aired that I wouldn’t have aired two years ago.”
The exec explained that “the reason to do more programming is to engage subscribers and really to reduce churn,” said Bloys. And this year, “increased programming has helped do that.”
Bloys also clarified that while AT&T reported in its quarterly earnings this morning that HBO had lost subscribers, the company was actually referring to Home Box Office overall, which also includes Cinemax.
That sister premium network, which is being “decoupled” from HBO, was responsible for the subscriber loss, while HBO “gained a healthy number of subscribers,” said Bloys. “What to do with Cinemax is an ongoing conversation.”
Two weeks ago, WarnerMedia said that its upcoming streaming service—which will have HBO programming at its core—will be called HBO Max, a name that “is flattering,” said Bloys.
HBO, he noted, “represents a brand promise of excellence in programming.” And in turn, HBO Max “will also deliver on a brand promise of excellence in programming, probably broader and complementary to HBO.”
However, the new streaming service “is not going to change anything that HBO decides to program or how we program,” said Bloys.
Bloys addressed the backlash to May’s Game of Thrones series finale, which included a fan petition asking HBO to reshoot the final season.
“There are very, very few downsides to having a hugely popular show. One is when you try to end it,” given that so many people have “big opinions” on finales, said Bloys. “I think that just comes with the territory.”
And no, a Season 8 reshoot “wasn’t something we seriously considered.”
There is more Game of Thrones on the way, however. Bloys said filming on the Game of Thrones spinoff pilot has wrapped, but he hasn’t seen any footage yet.
With Game of Thrones and Veep both ending their runs this year, Bloys isn’t worried about HBO being able to fill the void left by those two popular shows.
“I’ve been here 15 years. Disaster is always just around the corner,” he said. “If we work with people we believe in, we promote the shows, we let artists express themselves as they see fit, I think we’ll do just fine.”
When asked about a possible third season of Big Little Lies, which ended Season 2 on Sunday, Bloys said “never say never,” but added, “on the face of it, there’s no obvious place to go.” That said, if the creative team comes to him with a compelling story, he “would be open to it.”
There’s also no word on a potential fourth season of True Detective, as creator Nic Pizzolatto “doesn’t have anything he feels passionate about yet,” said Bloys.