Verizon first to carry HBO GO platform

FiOS customers who subscribe to cable net to have access

Verizon will be the first affiliate to carry the HBO Go platform, the pay cabler has announced. HBO’s 600-hour online series and movie library will be available to Verizon FiOS customers who also subscribe to the net.

“The name of the game is retention,” said HBO co-prexy Eric Kessler. Kessler explained that the initiative is aimed at keeping HBO subscribers on the books longer by allowing them heightened access to the cabler’s programming. No advertising initiatives will be supported, although Kessler said that “downloading is on the horizon.”

HBO Go provides FiOS users access to the same HBO content that Comcast subscribers can get through its Fancast Xfinity broadband service, which also works on a password-protected basis. During Wednesday’s tech demo in Gotham, the beta version of the HBO Go site looked like a cross between Fancast Xfinity service and Apple’s iTunes, giving users a “greatest hits” menu across the front page but also providing a unified interface and an information page for each program with a trailer and selected stats.

Kessler said that the browser-based service will be aimed at moving the net’s programming onto next-gen devices on HBO’s own terms (rather than distributing episodes shortly after airtime on iTunes or Hulu). HBO Go uses Flash and thus won’t work on the iPad or iPod Touch, however.

Instead, HBO and Verizon hope to nudge users onto devices like Verizon’s new Droid phone. Verizon veep Shawn Strickland said the company is planning HBO Go support for smartphones down the road.