HBO Mulls Broadband Site
The spokesman said that HBO is discussing a possible Web venture with all its affiliated TV operators, on which it relies for subscriber fees. HBO offered no timetable for when it might launch a new broadband site. The plans were first reported this week by the Financial Times.
The network is considering a service that would allow broadband customers to click on a branded menu to download network programming. The major TV networks--ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox--already offer shows for digital download through iTunes, their own sites, or those of partners such as MySpace and Google.
HBO took a step toward broadband expansion this month by pairing with sister Time Warner company AOL to create a new video comedy site called This Just In that will launch in the first quarter of 2007. It will be ad-supported and feature send-ups of the day's news as well as other content developed by AOL and HBO.
The network also offers a subscription-based video on-demand service that allows customers to watch more than 100 HBO programs when they choose.
But HBO has not pursued a more aggressive Internet strategy for fear of cannibalizing business from its paid TV offerings and potentially upsetting its cable and satellite partners. "As a premium TV channel, HBO arguably has a bit more to lose than the broadcast networks, which have been fast to deliver full TV shows online," said Joe Laszlo, a senior analyst at JupiterResearch.
Laszlo said he could envision HBO adding Internet downloads as another extension of its subscription TV and VOD offerings. "That would counter the cannibalism factor," he noted. Even if HBO won't directly rely on their operator partners for a broadband site, it makes sense for the network to cooperate with them on Web distribution. Cable operators that also provide broadband Internet access, for instance, would be able to help promote an HBO broadband service to their Internet customers. "Both sides need each other for a long time to come," said Laszlo.