Ireland believes that Stewart's content will be more "snackable" series that are easier to watch on smaller screens, rather than 30-minute or hour-long programs. It gives HBO original content, something that is necessary to compete with digital streaming services. Having Stewart's name behind the shows helps continue the network's image of as a premium service.
Michael Dub, partner at digital marketing firm DXagency, said by investing in short-form content it will also allow HBO to have materials that can be easily shared on social media, which can double up as promotional marketing. HBO is one of its clients.
"It's more about checking in on a more consistent basis and on all devices," said Dub. "That really is at the heart of where our society is going and where HBO is making a move towards."
Nail pointed out signing Stewart probably came at a premium price because of his notoriety, but talking head-style series are far less expensive to produce than scripted dramas like HBO's hit "Game of Thrones." The fantasy drama involves multiple actors and location shoots, upping the budget.
While Nail agreed that a digital presence is providing HBO with a way to derive new revenue streams, he said that he doesn't believe that it is moving its main business away from its cable roots. He believes HBO is investing in digital to grow its company to get younger subscribers, not save it from consumer change.
Home Box Office currently has about 122 million subscribers worldwide to the HBO and Cinemax cable services. It doesn't currently release numbers for its digital stand-alone product HBO Now. It declined to comment on its digital strategy.
"For all the talk of cord cutting, it's still a single digital percent of the population," Nail said. "Cable distribution is still a far-larger revenue driver, and will be the force for the next few years."