02 November 2006

HBO, Broadband, and Network Neutrality

In case you missed it, this story in BusinessWeek has some interesting aspects that seem to me to be closely related to the ongoing debates in the telecom industry. The short story here is that HBO, the premium television channel, lacks an on-line presence. So, the question that faces them is how to establish it. Certainly they can go it alone (as STARZ did), or they can partner with broadband access providers (eg. Comcast).

By partnering, do they set a precedent for the kinds of payment structures that some content providers oppose in the guise of "network neutrality"? Is this an example of private contracting to overcome a "small numbers" bargaining problem? So, is this the vanguard of the future or is this a "last gasp" of a legacy, mainstream media business model?

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1 comment:

Pat said...

Either HBO wants to pay BB operators to ensure that their HD streams will get through the clutter or they may want to establish their BB network to serve their own last-mile customers. They could also want to partner up with some operators like AT&T or Cingular as they are doing right now.

With Net Nuet* in mind, HBO should have no worry about the last-mile accesses. But if pipelines providers are allowed to charge the content providers, the media business model would be changed.

It might be something already happened with HBO and AT&T/Cingular will happen if there is no such Net Nuet*. The programming might be offered via a subscription service; for example, customers subscribe and pay to AT&T or Cingular in order to watch a full-length episode of Sex and the City or the movie likes Cinderella Man. There might also be such a legal issue involving BB operators that they censored HBO for programming a media that is considered "indecent" while HBO does not think so.