HBO is bringing its international original series to the U.S. for the first time — shows which, at home, are bigger than Game of Thrones. Beginning in December, two programs from each of the regional outposts HBO Europe, Latin America and Asia will be made available on streaming services HBO Go, HBO Now and HBO on Demand. HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler revealed the news during his keynote speech here at Mipcom this evening.
HBO has invested significantly in local programming and it’s paid off, Plepler said, noting that local fare “always outperforms even Game of Thrones.”
“We want to have a shared vision with the creative team in the U.S. and around the world,” he said. “Decisions made in the U.S. to elevate the brand are similar to the conversations we have around the world.”
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The programming that’s headed Stateside includes Czech Republic mini Wasteland and Seasons 1 and 2 of Polish series Pakt from HBO Europe. From HBO Asia, Taiwanese series The Teenage Psychic and the first two seasons of Indonesian/Thai series Halfworlds will be made available. And from HBO Latin America are Seasons 1 and 2 of El Hinotizador and the new Brazilian drama La Vida Secreta de la Parejas.
Plepler also noted today that 2017 will be HBO’s biggest year of subscription growth in its 45-year history. “Our brand is about curated excellence, and we believe that if we continue to do that, there will continue to be a huge market.”
He allowed there is a “surfeit of programming out there. Nobody can keep up with all of this. There’s good stuff out there, mediocre stuff out there and not-so-good stuff. What will matter more than ever as we go forward is brands and the sacredness of quality brands.”
He continued, “Even amidst all the competition and the fierceness of the competition, the [talent] line at our door today is bigger than five years ago.”
Speaking of the competition, Plepler said: “We’re not trying to be Netflix. We’ve grown their business, they have grown ours. We overindex in each other’s homes.”
Asked about the uproar surrounding Confederate, the series project that imagines the Civil War in an alternative reality where the South has separated itself and slavery has continued, Plepler reiterated the mistake HBO made in presenting the project, “We tried to explain something that’s very nuanced in a two-page press release.” The series still is going forward, and, “When we get to the point that we’re ready to move forward, when they start writing, then we’ll sit down and explain what we’re trying to do.”
Confederate hails from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss, and Plepler also touched on HBO’s current juggernaut, which is coming to an end next year. There are five different groups of writers working on potential spinoffs and while he wouldn’t be led on specifics, Plepler said it was “a fantastic group of talent, most of whom have lived within the Thrones ecosystem. None of them would do this just to do it. I think we’ll find an exciting property to move forward with. I’m excited about what I’ve seen.”
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