HBO programming chief can’t escape Netflix talk: ‘They’ve had some good shows’

Actor Jack Black, left, with HBO President of programming Michael Lombardo.

Actor Jack Black, left, with HBO President of programming Michael Lombardo.

(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

It’s the seven-letter no-no word to look out for whenever there’s an HBO executive around: Netflix.

And HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo, as expected, couldn’t escape it when he took the stage Thursday for the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

In bringing up the video streaming service’s full-force entry to original programming and its growing subscriber base (now totaling 65 million worldwide), a reporter pointed out that Netflix had 11 panels during their session at TCA earlier in the week (the most of any network). To which Lombardo replied: “Wow.”

Lombardo was asked whether HBO views the Internet TV network as a serious threat and, jokingly, whether HBO has meetings about the Los Gatos-based company.


Full coverage: Television Crtitics Association press tour 2015

“No, we don’t,” Lombardo replied. “In terms of the number of subscribers -- they’re an international network right now. I don’t know what their domestic footprint is. We’ve never seen the world as binary. We over-index in Netflix homes. People consume quality entertainment however they get it.”

HBO recently launched its stand-alone digital service HBO Now as a way to keep a strong hand in the online streaming game. The $14.99 per month service positions the New York-based company alongside other video streaming services that are reaching cord-cutters, or other consumers who do not subscribe to traditional pay TV packages.

And though Netflix is top dog in the video streaming market with a growing output of original series, Lombardo said the company isn’t the sole competition to look out for in its battle for viewers.

Netflix “has some good shows. FX has had some good shows. AMC has had some good shows. Showtime ...,” Lombardo said. “The interesting thing that is happening, at least for me, is less a Netflix issue than TV across the board, especially drama; there’s a lot of quality going on.”

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