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HBO Embraces YouTube

Jeff Baumgartner

HBO has had its issues with Internet-fed applications that enable consumers to distribute its coveted content without proper authorization. It’s a premium service, after all. Subscriptions are its lifeblood.

So it was significant to hear that HBO has created a channel to call its own on YouTube Inc.

This comes from the same folks who expressed fear during the early days of the Slingbox over questions about whether the redistribution of HBO's copyrighted materials was legal.

Well before that, a swath of programmers had some big problems with the “Send Show” option for the old ReplayTV DVR, again worried that people would zap out copies of The Sopranos to other ReplayTV owners who didn’t actually pay for the rights to the service. Oh, and they haven't been all that jazzed in general about the “analog hole,” which allows content to be copied and redistributed sans the shackles of copyright.

But it appears that HBO has gotten YouTube religion, so long as the programmer, and not legions of consumers, are in control of what content is being shared freely to the masses.

And it’s definitely a promotional play, not an entertainment hub.

Still, it’s got some decent stuff to share, at least enough to try to whet consumer appetites and perhaps drive them to become full-fledged HBO customers.

How about getting caught up with The Wire’s four seasons in four minutes, or a full episode of In Treatment?

I’ve only spent about 30 minutes or so on the site, but my favorite snippet so far elicits some fond memories of HBO from a time before there was a digital multiplex of thematic HBO linear channels and HBO On Demand, when the scheduling Rocky III and Poltergeist four times during a given day wasn’t out of the norm... the HBO “intro” circa 1983:

Wait... What's that guy doing? He's actually getting up to change the channel. Where's his remote control? And what's with that sweater-shirt combo? Someone help this man!

So let’s shed a tear for a time when we were younger, and probably plenty more innocent. Well, maybe some of you weren’t even born yet. But this was neat stuff back in the day. It meant a movie in all its un-cut glory was on its way. Well, in the 4:3 aspect ratio, anyway. And we were thankful for it.

But let’s also fast-forward to today: We’re still trying to figure out what the heck happened to the hi-def version of the HBO-VOD service. Or better yet, when it might return, perhaps as a bigger, badder version of its former self.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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