HBO has announced that it's finally going to offer broadband viewing of its shows, but with a twist... You can only watch them on your PC if you're a Time Warner subscriber, and only in a few select markets. Here's the skinny from Business Week:
First, the basics: You can watch the live HBO feed online, choose from
more than 350 movies, and download and store such TV shows as Sex & the City, The Sopranos, and Entourage.
It will set reminders for you when things are on, allow you to preset
to record movies and TV shows when they air on the cable network, and
suggest new stuff that maybe you would like to watch.
HBO describes HBO on Broadband as free. But to get the service, a
cable subscriber will need to have already paid not only the $12 or so
a month to get the pay channel, but also the $30 or $40 a month to get
a cable operator's broadband service. That's right. The free HBO
actually costs subscribers $52 or more per month because consumers will
first have to dip into their pockets to buy HBO from their cable or
satellite provider, and then add broadband service from the same
provider. By contrast, a rival pay-TV network, Starz, offers a similar
download service for $9.99 a month that doesn't require you to have a
video subscription. (Starz says it will soon start offering an HBO on
Broadband-like service called Starz Play that will be "free" if you
already have a video and data subscription.)
What networks like HBO and Starz are missing is the consumer expectation of watching television content online. Networks like ABC, NBC and Fox have set the precedent that TV shows should be able to be streamed online for free, supported with minimal advertising. Heck, HBO hasn't even jumped on the bandwagon of selling shows through iTunes. Simply put, networks like HBO are losing out on revenues, and the Time Warner solution isn't going to help.