HBO is getting aggressive with online sampling for its new show Flight of the Conchords, streaming the show's premiere online and letting web users embed it on their own sites.
The move marks a departure for the pay cable network, historically tight-reined with its content online .
HBO has always said it is exploring plans to distribute its programming online—so long as those plans don’t jeopardize its subscription-based business model or its licensing agreements with cable operators, which account for 80% of HBO’s revenue. But this is the first time it is streaming a full episode on multiple sites and allowing it to be portable.
Conchords, a musical comedy duo who move from New Zealand to New York, went up yesterday for free streaming on HBO.com and various other web hubs including MySpace, iTunes, Yahoo TV and iFilm. The half-hour episode, which premieres on TV June 17, is also being offered through the online arms of cable affiliates Comcast and Time Warner.
HBO is also making the "embed code" of video available to web users, enabling them to place it on their own sites.
While broadcast and cable networks—including the network’s pay-cable competitors Showtime and Starz—have built broadband players and putting shows on iTunes, HBO's digital offerings to date have centered on a limited cellular deal with Cingular, promotional podcasts and a branded comedy site with corporate cousin AOL
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