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Want to be Big in Content? Be Like HBO!
By: Emory Brown
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In the beginning of broadcast television, only the mega production houses could produce truly original content. Then came syndication, where we were forced to watch movies that we’d seen at the movies already. Television shows? We watch all seven seasons of those already. Don’t trip, but I still watch Friends and The Wire when they come on. But original content has helped companies like HBO become entertainment powerhouses.

HBO discovered that the best way to increase and keep their existing customers was to be more than a re-player of what some “original” produced and gave them the right to syndicate via their stations. Don’t get me wrong; for people who hate the craziness my nieces and I bring to a cinema, HBO is a more soothing option. HBO’s strategy was to be more than regular television. As their tagline once stated, “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.”

For instance, when you think about great series with mega followings, who’s done it better? True Blood, whose last season in 2014 had people all over the world in love with a deranged city of supernatural people, happened to win awards and kick ass in the secondary market with DVD sales and merchandise. Game of Thrones is so popular that they sell character figures in Walgreens. This is where content strategy, properly executed, can transform business and create multimillion-dollar entertainment brands that entrench themselves into the fabric of entertainment culture.

HBO’s original content strategy has worked so well that they won 25 Emmys in 2010. Can we say “direct hit”? Or perhaps “direct hits,” because HBO has produced other Emmy-winning shows like Boardwalk Empire, Big Love, Newsroom, and Entourage. Entourage is so popular among HBO fans that they’ve produced a movie that’ll be released this summer — and the show has been off the air for almost two seasons now. Entourage the movie is a new revenue stream built on established content success. It could easily become as popular as the Hangover franchise.

From documentaries to news shows like Real Time with Bill Maher and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, HBO has mastered the art of developing original content that moves and entertains audiences. This strategy has helped HBO create an audience of about 30 million subscribers in the U.S. alone. Now that’s big.


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About the Author
Emory Brown is an award-winning creative director/writer whose mission is to spread the gospel of what great marketers can do when they put their heads together and work together for the greater good and not the bottom line. Working with many esteemed clients, his portfolio of work ranges in genre from conservative to ultra-modern including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, Mazda 6 and RX-8, Illinois Lottery, Tyson, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike Air Force 1, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.  
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