HBO’s plan to compete with Netflix internationally is in full swing

Game of thrones

HBO will launch its cable-free service in Brazil and Argentina later this year, kicking its international expansion into high gear.

HBO Now, the company’s “over-the-top” streaming service, lets you pay $15 a month to get HBO a la carte. It has so far struggled to keep pace with analyst expectations, and only had 800,000 paying subscribers so far as of January.

But HBO seems to be taking a page out of Netflix’s playbook and looking to new countries to boost subscriber numbers. While Netflix’s domestic subscriber growth has been sluggish, internationally it has crushed analyst expectations.

HBO Now is currently available in 9 countries worldwide, including the United States, Mexico, and throughout Scandinavia. But this move represents a significant expansion of the service, as does the previously announced impending launch in Spain.

Netflix, by contrast, is now available in over 190 countries, and every major market except China.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler said that he believes there are about 12 million to 15 million “persuadable homes” for HBO Now, and that these don’t overlap with current HBO subscribers, according to Variety. HBO has said that only 1% of HBO Now subscribers previously had HBO.

International expansion is just one piece HBO seems to be taking out of the Netflix playbook. The company is also ramping up content production by 50% this year, according to Plepler, and beefing up its library of children’s content with the addition of Sesame Street.

And expect to see HBO pumping up its standalone service. “We have not turbo-charged the direct marketing as much as we will in the coming months,” Plepler said.

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