HBO, CBS Score #PRWin at Netflix’s Expense

You may have heard that HBO made lots of headlines yesterday by announcing that its first standalone streaming service would launch in 2015. This was great news for people like us, who only use their parents’ HBO GO password when Mom and Dad are in town…super serious, you guys! Fingers not crossed!!

It was also a brilliant act of PR — and CBS followed it up today by doing HBO one better:

Going to have to agree with Brian Stelter — this release was definitely worth more than five bucks. So why was this such a big PR win for the two companies?

Just check out this Fortune headline:

Netflix Shares Tumble on Disappointing Subscriber Growth

Here’s the key passage:

“Netflix is only predicting earnings of 44 cents per share for the current quarter, which is far below the 91 cents per share that analysts had predicted, according to Bloomberg.”

What an amazing coincidence that HBO’s announcement (which was actually quite vague) dropped on the very same day as Netflix’s quarterly earnings report! While eMarketer couldn’t say too much without knowledge of HBO’s strategy, here’s a quote from analyst Paul Verna:

“We don’t know whether Time Warner executives timed today’s HBO statement to coincide with Netflix’s quarterly earnings, but the lack of substance in HBO’s statement raises the possibility that Time Warner may have wanted to attract media attention away from a competitor, even if it wasn’t ready to reveal full details of its plans.”

This is especially relevant given the fact that the news for Netflix was almost all bad.

Maybe someone at HBO performed the PR equivalent of insider trading…or just made a great guess about Netflix’s fortunes. You have to work with the opportunities you have…