Outside of the United States, HBO is available in more then 50 countries with over 35 million subscribers! Since 1991 HBO has overseen a number of extensions of its branding across the world, and has adapted its programming and distribution accordingly. However, while reflecting on this it is interesting to consider the way viewers consume media around the world and their cultural approach to it. In the United States, we are surrounded by media all the time and culturally we have a very encompassing view of it. We love HBO because of the high quality programming, but we also enjoy the immediate access provided by HBO Go. Yet, in other countries like China, the media is more influenced by the government, and the values they look for in the programming would be different then those in the United States.
The solution? Give them both.
In most outlets across the world, HBO offers access not only to original programming that was produced for the United States, but also programming that is exclusively distributed or produced for that regions audience. As seen on the website for HBO-Europe, in this market HBO offers shows and documentaries produced around Europe and that speak to their culture and specific interests. The issue of language is of course important to address, but it is worth noting that a lot of the younger demographics internationally speak English, and these would be the ones primarily targets by the HBO brand. In addition, the tradition of adding subtitles in a variety of languages to media is already a well established practice in the industry.
This mixed strategy of localized programming with standard distribution and branding seems to have worked well for HBO so far. I would say that their brand very accurately represents the ever troubling condition of how consumers are all so very different and yet very much the same. Television, film, and documentaries move us all, and although we might spend various amounts of time consuming media in a multitude of forms, there is something about the dramatic programming of HBO that is very translatable. The question I now wonder is, the international market seems to have access to all of the original programming from the United States. I wonder when we will have access to the incredible projects made for their countries in return.