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HBO on the Web – Not a Time Warner Contradiction


The news that HBO (a Time Warner company) will offer its programming for free online to HBO subscribers is all over the tech blogs today, with an interesting range of commentary. Most interesting to me is Cynthia Brumfield’s argument on whether or not the news goes against Time Warner’s planned initiative to test metered broadband billing. She says there’s no contradiction between Time Warner tightening broadband controls on the one hand and offering more content online on the other, and I agree. But I’d take it even a step further. HBO has to offer both online and traditional cable delivery of its content, and here’s why:

1. HBO is in the content game, which means its entire business is about reaching a wide audience.

2. Time Warner, parent of HBO, owns two kinds of video delivery systems – traditional cable networks and broadband Internet service. How could it not take advantage of that?

Traditional video networks are still by far the better choice for delivery from a technical standpoint, but the Internet has changed the rules of the game by offering flexibility. Sure Time Warner is worried about broadband capacity, but since video is eating up cable bandwidth anyway, it might as well be video that Time Warner owns.

Side note, HBO is one of the few networks with enough resources to dedicate people to understanding video distribution technology and video policy, according to SVP Craig Cuttner. (He spoke on this panel.) Hence decisions like the one last summer to move to all-HD, MPEG-4 broadcasting.

6 Responses

  1. There is no contradiction as long as TW treats the HBO content just the same as any other bits. The issue comes if they allow the HBO content to not count against your cap while other content (from companies they don’t own, or that don’t pay them) does. That would violate net neutrality principles…

  2. Yes, you are absolutely right. Those that own the networks have a lot of power. There’s always the potential for abuse.

  3. […] ongoing strategy to make its content available online only through allied cable operators. (HBO introduced this approach back in January.) The beauty of targeting bandwidth for MSOs is that they can spend money where they’re most […]

  4. […] broader point is that everyone is still trying to figure out how to make money off two video mediums that operate very differently… but are growing closer together. The issue is multifaceted and […]

  5. eQV7Oot1woalP

  6. […] the Time Warner exec on the panel talked about being more cautious with online video and referenced Internet trials with HBO. The general consensus among them seemed to be that Internet access to cable content should be tied […]

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