Edmund Lee and John Koblin, for The New York Times:
Known for “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” HBO has long favored quality over quantity. Its high-gloss productions often take years to develop and can cost millions per episode. That approach has won the network more Primetime Emmy Awards than any of its competitors over the last 16 years, with Mr. Plepler the master curator.
In recent years, Mr. Plepler has emphasized HBO’s “bespoke culture” and its enduring appeal to A-list producers and stars at a time when Netflix, Amazon and Apple have bottomless budgets. On his watch, “Big Little Lies” has brought the Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep to the network, and shows like “Barry” and “Insecure” have charmed critics. But during the town hall meeting, Mr. Stankey said HBO should consider trying something new.
The feeling that quality over quantity gives is something hard to measure in terms of viewer appreciation but its a very important aspect of a service.
“We need hours a day,” Mr. Stankey said, referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month. We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.”
Continuing the theme, he added: “I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”
This pursuit of engagement is why so many products and services are absolutely terrible today. Please HBO, don’t go down that route. Oh, and Stankey’s mention of “alternate models of advertising” is utterly unacceptable.