HBO's programming president says 'think pieces' are a good measure of a show's success

Attention bloggers: HBO loves your “think pieces” and wishes you would write more of them.

While the “think piece” — and its cousin the “hot take” — are often-mocked staples of writing on the internet, HBO thinks their proliferation bodes well for a show.

“I like a show that generates think pieces,” Casey Bloys, HBO’s programming president, said at the ATX Television Festival, according to The New York Times. The audience then started to laugh. “Honestly,” Bloys added.

Why does Bloys consider think pieces to be a metric of a show’s success? Because a bumper crop of think pieces means that the show is making people dig deep. It shows “that people are thinking about, analysing, debating, and that’s important,” according to Bloys.

For TV execs like Bloys, it’s not just about the ratings, it’s also about the depth of the connection someone has with a show. This is especially important for a company like HBO, where people choose to subscribe to individually, either by add-on to their cable package or a-la-carte with HBO Now.

Craig Erwich, Hulu’s head of content, backed up this line of thinking at the same festival.

“It’s not so much how many people are watching,” Erwich said, according to the Times. “It’s what’s their intensity of a relationship to the show. You might have the show that might not have the biggest audience, but if it’s a bunch of those people’s favourite show and if the economics bear out, it’s a show that can stick out.”

Passion is a key metric for TV execs, especially those who work at places like HBO, Hulu, and Netflix, and think pieces can be one way to measure that.

So, bloggers, next time a bad take of yours gets flamed on the internet, remember that HBO’s programming president is still happy you wrote it.

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