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HBO Testing Streaming Site

27 Jan, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

HBO has begun beta-testing a proprietary site, HBOGO.com, which allows the cable channel’s monthly subscribers to stream on demand any movie or television program at no additional charge.

HBO parent Time Warner has made accessing its content properties’ content across multiple platforms at any time (“TV Everywhere”) a cornerstone of its digital strategy.

It also takes a page from Netflix’s successful Watch Instantly streaming initiative that allows monthly subscribers to access catalog titles via the PC, connected Blu-ray Disc player, TV and portable media device.

HBO spokesperson Jeff Cusson said transferring HBO GO content to portable media devices remains an unfulfilled goal.

“Nothing to report as of now,” Cusson said.

Richard Greenfield, analyst with Pali Capital, who has seen the test site, said HBO GO offers an improved user interface for VOD compared to a standard cable remote, in addition to deeper content.

“Spending 30 seconds with HBO GO makes you want to throw out your cable box,” Greenfield wrote in a note.

The streaming site features 218 feature length movies and full episodes of the first four seasons of “Big Love,” in addition to full episodes of “True Blood” and “The Sopranos,” among others.

“The goal is simply to attract more consumers with a more comprehensive offering and to reduce churn [or subscriber attrition rate],” Greenfield said.

The analyst, who covers Time Warner, said HBO remains an underrated subsidiary that is projected to generate more than $1.5 billion of Time Warner’s pre-tax earnings in fiscal 2010.

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