What is it about media companies? Time Warner may own one of the big internet portals, AOL, but when its subsidiary HBO released its new download product for HBO's widely acclaimed drama series, many wondered why they had bothered.
To get it you have to pay a monthly fee, live in Wisconsin, have a PC, apply for a CD (yes CD!), subscribe to a Time Warner cable company and subscribe to HBO. Even then you only get it at your home because the service is tied to your cable footprint. Bad luck if you are an HBO satellite subscriber, and, no, you can't get it in HD! About six episodes will be available and each download will have a shelf life of a month.Â
Yes, it's a trial, but with so many old media conditions to navigate and protective hoops to jump through, how many are going to sign up for the service? HBO is a premium brand and has been very tentative in its online play, fearing widespread copying and cannibalization of its existing channels through pay TV.Â Â
Trying to create an exclusive software portal for your own content is about as old as AOL's walled garden business model, and suggests Time Warner is only making the move online with HBO as a defensive measure rather than using its strong media brands to spearhead its strategy.Â
Meanwhile, I defy anyone to find a college-aged male who has not watched a copy of HBO's male version of Sex in the City Entourage from the Internet, though Limewire or the other dozen P2P services offering copies.