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HBO will shut down its linear pay TV channels, as well as its branded TV Everywhere service HBO Go in the Netherlands at the end of the year.
HBO Netherlands is a joint venture operated by Time Warner’s HBO unit and Ziggo, a Dutch cable TV platform controlled by John Malone’s Liberty Global. Ziggo confirmed reports in the territory that HBO was ending its service there, calling the move a business decision. HBO Netherlands will switch off on Dec. 31.
The financial impact wasn’t immediately clear.
Ziggo said it would still continue to offer HBO shows, including Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and The Night Of, exclusively to its cable customers in the Netherlands.
The HBO channels had been part of packages offered on multiple cable and IPTV platforms in the Netherlands. Some, like cable group KPN, offered HBO as a free add-on to some of their packages. That will no longer be possible.
“We find it unfortunate to have to say goodbye to HBO,” said Sparql, a small IPTV platform, in a note to its subscribers announcing the news. “HBO was always one of our favorite ‘premium’ channels. We are certainly going to miss numerous series such as Game of Thrones, The Night Of, Ballers, Silicon Valley and True Detective.”
HBO has taken different business approaches in international markets depending on local conditions. In some markets, it has been operating HBO networks, in others it has been licensing its programming and in some it has been launching over-the-top digital services, as it did with HBO Nordic in 2012.
The move comes as a shock to many in the Dutch industry, but it remains to be seen if it will have larger implications for HBO across Europe. The Netherlands is one of the most competitive television markets in Europe, with multiple online and digital platforms aggressively competing for what is a relatively small local audience.
Ziggo is the largest cable TV operator in the Netherlands but faces increasing competition from the likes of KPN, T-Mobile and Tele2. Earlier this year, Malone merged Ziggo with the Dutch operations of telecoms group Vodafone to gain scale and shore up its subscriber base.
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