The HBO SVOD service will be distributed by BT Vision, Tiscali TV and Virgin Media, with launch dates to be determined by each partner. Other partners may be added in coming months. The service will offer at least 50 hours of HBO original programming including series, miniseries, documentaries and comedy specials. Programmes will be updated weekly.
'It's something we've been working on for a bit, said Simon Sutton, president of programming distribution and international for HBO. 'We were the first to launch on demand in the US, so it was news to consumers there. Now five years on, they value the service. It's a large part of our viewership and we expect the UK consumer behaviour to be similar.'
Initial offerings will include The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Band Of Brothers, Angels In America, From The Earth To The Moon, Autopsy, Taxicab Confessions, Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning, and Chris Rock: Never Scared. Eventually, the library will offer all episodes of featured series.
Pricing will be determined by partners and the pricing of their bundles.
HBO launched its SVOD service HBO On Demand in the US back in 2001. It now has more than 11m subscribers. Similar plans are being discussed for other European territories. 'This is a model we'd like to take to some other countries,' Sutton added.
There will be no advertising on the UK offering. 'We have a very dynamic schedule,' Sutton said. 'The programme on it changes quite substantially every week. It's not a static offering. That's something we've really learnt from our US experience.
Sutton said that the service would in the future consider carrying third-party content as well. This is a TV-based offering that isn't tied to any Internet digital downloads, but that space is another area that HBO is watching.
HBO's other UK move has been mobile service with Vodafone which Sutton says is 'doing nicely.'