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HBO's Netflix rival a go on AT&T U-verse

HBO parent Time Warner says that what HBO Go needed was more ISPs to offer the service, which enables HBO subscribers to watch its shows online.

Screen shot by Greg Sandoval/CNET

The so-called Netflix killers built by HBO and Cinemax got a boost today as AT&T announced that customers of the company's U-verse service will have online access to shows from those pay TV services.

AT&T said that customers of U-verse, an Internet protocol TV service that as of a year ago had 2 million subscribers, can log on to and and watch their shows via the Web--provided they also subscribe to HBO and Cinemax.

The Internet offerings from HBO and Cinemax, which launched this year, are in need of some good news. The momentum propelling Netflix, Hulu, and the Web TV sector in general only appears to be building. In its latest earnings report (for the quarter ended September 30), Netflix said its subscriber numbers had grown by more than 5 million over its figures from the same period last year. Meanwhile, HBO's parent company, Time Warner, said earlier this month that it expects to lose 1.5 million HBO subscribers this year.

Nonetheless, HBO is sticking to the "TV Everywhere" strategy employed by cable and pay TV service, which calls for enabling subscribers to access their shows via the Web.

At a conference in Spain earlier this month, John Martin, Time Warner's chief financial officer, acknowledged the lackluster adoption of HBO Go but suggested that the numbers would rise once additional Internet service providers, such as AT&T, began to make the service available to their customers.

Meanwhile, there's been a lot of talking in the last week about how Netflix will need to start paying more to the studios and TV networks to stream their movies and shows. If price continues to be a factor, then the cable and pay TV services could be in a better position to compete against Netflix by offering more online content.