Communications and cable giant Comcast announced a partnership with Time Warner television programming subsidiaries Home Box Office and Cinemax, two subscription cable channels, to offer content online for the first time. The HBO and Cinemax broadband services will be available as part of Comcast's On Demand Online trial, accessible via Comcast.net and Fancast.com. Comcast said On Demand Online, a free service, would "significantly expand the number of programming choices available online to Comcast cable customers."
The HBO and Cinemax broadband services will initially provide a combined total of 750 hours a month of programming and will grow over time, the company said. At launch, the HBO and Cinemax broadband services on Comcast's On Demand Online will include hit HBO series' The Wire, Sex and the City and The Sopranos and recent Hollywood blockbusters such as The Dark Knight, Transformers and notable Tinseltown trainwrecks such as The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
"On the heels of the TV Everywhere agreement between Time Warner and Comcast, we're pleased to be partnering with Comcast to deliver our HBO and Cinemax broadband services on a national level," said HBO co-president Eric Kessler. "The broadband services are the latest in a line of digital offerings that have dramatically changed the viewing experience for our subscribers, providing them with more access, choice and even greater value to their subscriptions."
Comcast said following the launch, HBO and Cinemax programming would be updated frequently, with subscribers able to choose from a number of programs in HD including HBO Films, series, documentaries, sports, specials and comedy as well as theatrical films. Customers will be able to view certain new programs online immediately after they air on television and will have access to a library of past programming.
Matt Bond, executive vice president of content acquisition for Comcast, said this agreement is an important milestone in the company's long-term strategy of enabling customers to watch popular television and movie content when and where they want it. "HBO is an iconic brand with award winning original programming and exclusive feature films and we are thrilled they are joining us in our mission to make our services available online to our customers," he said. "For the first time HBO and Cinemax customers around the country will be able to watch their favorite shows and movies online at no additional cost."
The HBO and Cinemax broadband services will be part of Comcast's technical trial of On Demand Online with approximately 5,000 customers from across the United States in the coming weeks. The company said a major focus of the trial is to test Comcast's new "authentication" technology, which will allow Comcast customers to receive the same content online for free that they subscribe to on TV. The service will utilize a log-on system for streaming content and, in the future, would allow for download content to go.
In a joint announcement last month, Time Warner and Comcast introduced a set of principles called "TV Everywhere." Developed by the two companies, the principles are designed to serve as a framework to facilitate deployment of online television content in a way that is consumer friendly, pro-competitive and at no additional cost to customers.