But why watch? Motivation and HBO


As a brand, it is hard to precisely explain what motivation a consumer might have for participating in HBO.

Psychology tells us that motivation is the driving force within an individual that propels them towards an action, to move them from a state of tension to a state of content.  But, how does HBO satisfy a need?

From my perspective, HBO, and entertainment in general, are acquired needs.  This means they are needs learned in response to our culture or environment.  So although logically I know I will not die if I miss the next season of Game of Thrones, in reality sometimes it can certainly feel like I might.

But, to ask another question, why is that and how does it affect my behavior?  I would argue that the need for entertainment and HBO relates back to our many discussions over the course of this blog.  Participating in the HBO brand conveys a position of prestige, and inclusion in a larger community.  This need then turns into a motive.  In the case of HBO, I would call this a primary motive as the need to be a part of a community can affect a whole set of behaviors beyond just buying a subscription to HBO.  This is an emotional motive, one set according to personal and subjective criteria, and bears little weight on the logic.

However, logical motives do come into play when a consumer faces the choice between HBO and another premium cable station, or between HBO GO and another online entertainment provider like Netflix.  In these case, logical factors such as cost, and type of programming play a major role in the decision.

An interest in the motives of the consumer leads to the development of a brand personality.  This is something HBO has in abundance.  The programming is dramatic, the advertisements are bold, and the whole attitude focuses on originality.  The brand itself has a voice that expands beyond each show to the overall network.

One example of brand personality and the inspiration of community with HBO is an event they hosted where they invited viewers to participate in a comedic “roast” of King Jeoffrey found here.

Another example is this segment on the new series “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” which starts by making fun of other brands because HBO has its own approach to advertising.

In conclusion, advertising requires a basic understanding of the motives of your audience.  It means that if HBO doesn’t understand why its current customers joined the brand, it can not inspire new ones to do the same.  Entertainment is not a need to survive, but it is an important one and relates to this goal that we all have to participate in a community and feel connected to one another.


One thought on “But why watch? Motivation and HBO

  1. This is a really great article, Jenna. Your whole blog is really thorough and impressive, and you make some really good points. HBO has maneuvered itself into a wonderful position by generating a culture around their shows. Entertainment is important and necessary, but many of HBOs shows go beyond that basic need into the realm of social acceptance. It’s nice to belong to the community that forms around last night’s episode of “OH MY GOD CAN YOU BELIEVE HE DIED??” Carry a reference to the show or wear it on your shirt and suddenly you have personal connections just waiting to happen. HBO brilliantly encourages this kind of culture and discussion because it shifts the value of watching the show from a desire into what feels like a need.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s