HBO Weaves Web Play

Although it's admittedly a bit late to the game, premium heavyweight programmer HBO has officially entered the world of broadband, offering north of 400 hours of downloadable movies and original fare.

Initially, corporate cousin Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) will offer it to cable modem subs in Milwaukee and Green Bay who also happen to subscribe to HBO and the operator's digital video service. The irony, of course, is that the MSO's system in Beaumont, Texas, will soon begin to test a usage-based broadband service that might actually discourage consumers from downloading gobs of video. (See TWC to Test Broadband Toll Booth .)

But if you're going to push the broadband needle, I guess you might as well test it with content from the Time Warner family.

The irony only deepens when considering that Time Warner Cable scrapped a broadband TV pilot in San Diego about a year ago, after discovering that fewer than 1 percent of the trial customers opted to watch the linear lineup on their PC screens. (See Time Warner Starts Over on BBTV.)

But there's at least one key difference: The new HBO on Broadband service, with a nod to business travelers, will allow customers to take their shows and movies on the road with them and view them on the PC.

HBO's model, meanwhile, is a bit different than that of Vongo , the subscription-based Web play from Starz Entertainment LLC that, in addition to a library of downloadable titles, also features a live stream of its flagship linear network.

But if HBO's broadband service goes long-term with Time Warner Cable and possibly with other MSOs, it could bode well for Vongo and its ambitions for a direct deal with cable and telco TV operators.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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