HBO's Zitter says linear television here to stay

Decline inevitable, but sports, news will sustain live television
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HBO's Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President Bob Zitter understands better than most the impact that technology has on the television business. He also understands that no matter how technology changes, consumer appetite for live events--especially sports--will help maintain a linear television model.

"Linear television viewing is declining as DVR, on-demand and Internet video streaming on-demand increases," Zitter said during a Q&A with IP&TV News.

That decline will continue, he said, but it's "doubtful that linear television goes away" because "viewers' appetite for live sports on television remains strong [and] live news is another draw."

Even with this background, though, the biggest change video service providers face is the increasing mobility of the viewing public, driving the need to present video wherever and whenever the consumer wants.

"Mobility and portability of video program distribution will, in my opinion, have a profound impact on the television business," Zitter said. "In the end consumers want to control what they watch, when they watch it and on what device they use. Success in the television programming business will recognize and serve this need, without regard to the distribution technology."

HBO, under Zitter's watch, has been either at or near the front of every technological shift in television viewing. Today the programmer has HBO GO to feed subscribers with a demand for portable programming.

It is, Zitter said, all part of his belief that "[t]echnology has had a profound impact on the television business" and that HBO must change as the business changes. While Zitter noted that HBO is "expanding the universe of devices that can access HBO GO… in a growing number of countries outside the U.S.," he did not ultimately address whether the programmer planned to make it a standalone service.

For more:
- IP&TV News has this interview

Related articles:
Time Warner CEO: Broadband only version of HBO 'not ready for primetime'
Netflix predicts HBO will launch 'direct-to-consumer' streaming video service in U.S.

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