As several outlets are reporting, HBO plans to launch a trial project called HBO On Broadband, in which subscribers can watch the channel’s programs — such as the highly acclaimed series The Wire — on their computers for several weeks after they air. Of course, the programs can’t be downloaded or transferred to another device, and they eventually expire, but it’s still a step forward, if only a limited one.
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, however, an interesting twist to this particular offering is that HBO is a subsidiary of Time Warner, the media giant that has confirmed its cable subsidiary is rolling out metered Internet access. In other words, one part of the TW empire is giving you more content to watch — content that sucks up the gigabytes — and the other is planning to charge you by the gigabyte.
That may fly with the boys in finance, but if I were a Time Warner cable subscriber and an HBO fan, I would feel like I was getting squeezed between a rock and a hard place. Cynthia Brumfield of IPDemocracy doesn’t think it’s really that big a deal, but I think it’s a sign of the conflicting pressures that media conglomerates like TW find themselves under. Steve Bryant of Reel Pop has more on the HBO deal.