Time Warner Inc.'s HBO may be near adding two more large affiliates for its "TV Everywhere" services, designed to help the premium programmer protect its existing pay-TV subscription model.
Charter Communications on Tuesday began sending e-mail invitations to a small number of subscribers to participate in a beta trial of the premium programmer's authenticated online video services, while Time Warner Cable said it is in "active discussions" with HBO about the service.
"We'll make additional information available to consumers upon a potential launch of this product," Charter spokeswoman Anita Lamont said. Following the beta trail, the programming content would be available via charter.net and HBO's websites.
HBO is not charging affiliates extra to offer subs access to the TV Everywhere services, according to industry sources, but is stipulating certain promotional and packaging terms.
Time Warner Cable, for its part, is in "active discussions with HBO" about offering the service, according to spokeswoman Nathalie Burgos. Bright House Networks, the sixth-largest U.S. cable operator, typically piggybacks on Time Warner Cable's programming distribution deals.
With the participation of Charter and TWC, if that happens, Cablevision Systems would be the largest pay-TV operator that does not offer HBOGo. Cablevision declined to comment.
Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Cox Communications, AT&T U-verse TV and Verizon FiOS TV already offer HBOGo and MaxGo, and Suddenlink Communications on Tuesday announced its participation.
HBO's TV Everywhere services are intended to keep cable, satellite and telco TV subscribers in the fold -- continuing to pay for the traditional HBO packages on TV -- while giving them access to content on PCs and other devices.
Next Monday (May 2), HBO expects to debut apps for Apple's iPhone and iPad to access HBOGo and MaxGo content.
And HBO has no plans currently to license online streaming rights to Netflix or other online video distributors, a point Dish hammered home in touting the addition of HBOGo and MaxGo last week to DishOnline.com.
Charter's beta trial is "the final stage of testing prior introducing to all Charter customers," Lamont noted. Beta users are asked to participate in a survey, and any Charter customers who wish to join the trial are also welcome to, she added.