HBO president Mike Lombado discusses value of taking risks & the future of HBO Go

"We're not ad supported at HBO, it's a culture and a company that doesn't approach programming with fear," remarked Mike Lombado, HBO president of programming during his Worldview address at the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

With shows like The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire and more recently Game of Thrones and True Detective under its belt, HBO has been nominated for no less that 99 Primetime Emmys at Monday's awards bash.

Lombado admitted it was hard to "feel like you've hit a moment, you're always focused on the next show or the next year".

But he conceded that he was pleased with the tally and joked one year he'd have to be happy with "just 15 or something".

Speaking of one of the network's biggest success stories of the last year - True Detective (pictured above) - Lombado explained that despite having A-list names Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson attached the "exceptional" writing was what attracted HBO to the series.

"Our feeling is you start with a great script and then you attract great directors and the talent," he said. "Name value is great and it'll get people to the first episode but viewers won't just stay because it's Matthew McConaughey or Antony Hopkins."

Of the risks the network takes when commissioning, Lombado said that HBO's decision not to monetise everything gives it more freedom.

"You need to focus on the writing, if it's good someone will find it. It's hard as of course we care about success, but the minute you start programming and focusing on that [success and ratings] you're fucked.

"If the story is not there it won't work, regardless of production value and stars."

Known for not being ‘family friendly viewing’, Lombado made no issue of the network being adult-geared adding: "by that I don't mean pornographic or pushing the boundaries, but not worrying about commercial restraints and working with the right creators".

He added: "There was one particular scene in the first series of Girls when I asked Lena (Dunham) do we need to see that much? We had a passionate disagreement about what was necessary and not necessary for the storytelling. But I didn't want to create a show a woman couldn't watch with her 16 year old daughter and at the same time I didn't want to stop her (Dunham) telling the story in the way she wanted to tell it," he explained.

"I don't come in as censor but I come in and question, pushing the envelope for the sake of it."

During the session, Lombado revealed he would like to work with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan but said his "huge deal" with Sony could make it difficult adding that it is "important to HBO not to sell our shows for free".

"Our vision for HBO subscribers is that they get the linear and the digital. HBO Go will become more important to us as time goes on...I'm not interested in partners just for sharing expenses."

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