Monday, January 21, 2008

HBO on Broadband: Shows Online, No Extra Fee - But Lots of Caveats

Time-Warner Cable (TWC) giveth and TWC taketh away. More on that later. HBO, a TWC subsidiary, is about to roll out a (yet another) trial service in Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin starting Tuesday. The new service, HBO on Broadband, will give users access to approximately 400 hours of programming per month.

(I wonder if someone at HBO is prescient, as this is perfect for Wisconsin, since the Packers lots the NFC Championship game and they Wisconsin residents will have more time on their hands). Photobucket

To get HBO on Broadband you have to be an HBO subscriber (natch), you have to be a digital cable customer, and you have to have Internet service* through your cable provider. Also, the software to watch the shows is only available on Windows PCs (surprise, surprise).

The software will allow multiple accounts, one for each family member, and there are parental controls as well. You can also watch the East Coast feed of HBO, which would be great if you are traveling.

Naturally if things go well, TWC will roll out HBO on Broadband nationwide.

The bad news, of course, is this leaves out satellite users (DirecTV, Dish), people who use DSL or satellite broadband, people with Macs - who am I leaving out? Oh, and in case you were wondering: no portable devices yet.

Also, when you think about it, 400 hours is not that much. According to HBO, about six episodes will be offered at any one time for a series, but for one series each month, all the episodes ever produced will be available.

So why did I say TWC taketh away? Well, hey, you're gonna use plenty of bandwidth here, and yet in Texas TWC is trialling hard bandwidth caps. TWC, you can't have it both ways!

* As if (in my area) the incentive to sign up for Comcast to get lower rates for cable modem service isn't enough, now they tack this on.

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