HBO Shows Online Video Service HBO GO
After two years of testing, HBO is starting to roll out a site that makes its TV programs viewable on the Web, joining a growing number of companies posting online video for paying TV subscribers.
The Time Warner unit said last week that Verizon Communications would make the site, HBOGO.com, available to HBO subscribers on Verizon’s TV service beginning Thursday. Verizon has about 2.9 million TV subscribers through its FiOS service, though only a fraction also subscribe to HBO.
HBO touts the site as offering 600 hours of content, including movies that are cycling through HBO’s lineup, and current and former HBO TV programs. Among the video currently on offer: All 60 episodes of “The Wire.”
HBO sees the bundled service as a way to keep people paying. “In an established subscription business like HBO, the name of the game is retention,” Eric Kessler, the HBO co-president in charge of sales and marketing, told reporters assembled in a conference room overlooking Manhattan’s Bryant Park for a demonstration.
At least for now, it appears subscribers also have a loophole to share their access with friends and family members. HBO said it plans to allow three simultaneous users per subscribing household to watch using their Verizon passwords. Viewers can log on anywhere in the U.S.
HBO’s offering is the most recent scheme to offer online video only for paying subscribers, a concept called “authentication” or “entitlement” by some, or “TV Everywhere” by Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes.
NBC Universal is currently offering hundreds of hours of live and taped video from the Olympics on NBCOlympics.com , but only to people who prove they are paying subscribers to one of more than a dozen subscription-TV distributors like Time Warner Cable or Verizon. Meanwhile Comcast in December unveiled a new version of its Fancast site, dubbed Xfinity TV, that allows subscribers to watch programming from many cable networks, but blocks those shows from those who don’t pay for them.
Comcast offers its HBO subscribers all the same programming that is on HBOGO.com through Fancast, Mr. Kessler said. HBO, which earns billions from monthly subscription fees from companies like Comcast, doesn’t have plans to offer access to HBOGO.com to Comcast subscribers, but is in talks with other subscription-TV providers, he added.
Meanwhile, HBO is looking at offering HBO GO — to paying TV subscribers — on other devices besides laptop and desktop computers. That includes mobile phones and possibly Apple’s new iPad.
“If we can distribute our content from our television providers to a device where the subscribers can be authenticated, and our subscribers want to watch on the device, we would want to be on those devices,” Mr. Kessler said.
Bron: The Wall Street Journal