We’ve seen how major television networks such as Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC and second-tier networks like The CW have been using the Web, but noticeably absent from this activity has been creative powerhouse HBO.
HBO on Monday announced it will be using the Web slightly differently than most, launching its own Web video series called “Hooking Up.” It’s a part of HBOlab, an experimental offshoot of the cable network’s online programming.
Jessica Rose of “lonelygirl15” will star in a 10-part show that begins airing on Oct. 1 on its own site — Hookingupshow.com — and on MySpaceTV and YouTube. Rose is accompanied on the show by video bloggers sxePhil and KevJumba, giving the program three of the Internet’s most popular entertainers.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more hits than had we cast a bunch of funny people you didn’t know,” said Fran Shea, head of HBOlab.
To date, the cable network has dipped its toe into the Internet TV waters with a new service dubbed “HBO on Broadband” in January, which was offered free of charge to existing subscribers only. HBO also made some of its shows, including “The Wire,” available on iTunes.
HBOlab has concentrated on creating an online hub for a collection of comedy videos called “Runway Box.” HBOlab, however, is beginning to make its move with “Hooking Up,” and another Top 10 YouTube star Michael Buckley on the “What the Buck Show” will not only appear in “Hooking Up” but also has signed a development deal that will cast him in other projects in the works.
HBO, careful and stingy with how its content is distributed, isn’t investing a lot here with “Hooking Up,” and if it flops will anybody notice? HBO isn’t spending much on the series, and it’s committed to just 10 episodes.
Cautious as HBO may be, the experiment is notable and worth trying. One of these days HBO will settle on a strategy as unique as its shows.