It's a multi-channel, multi-platform and multi-screen world and that means one thing for broadcast and cable networks: distributing content effectively requires more than just access to the airwaves or cable pipes.

The networks realize this, which is why many have been rapidly pushing to make their content available to consumers wherever they go.

HBO, for instance, launched HBO Go in 2010. Initially a website that allowed HBO subscribers to access HBO content on the web (the service's tagline was "It’s HBO on your computer"), HBO Go is now available on a number of connected devices.

The newest addition to that device lineup: the Xbox 360. As reported by Engadget, HBO has announced that Xbox 360 owners who subscribe to HBO will be able to access HBO Go from the Xbox 360 starting on April 1.

Obviously, this is a smart move for HBO. Cord cutting is real, and subscription-based networks like HBO have every motivation to do what they can to keep their subscribers. Making content available conveniently on devices like the Xbox 360 is an important part of that.

The real question, however, is whether consumers will be able to subscribe to HBO outside of a relationship with a cable company. Needless to say, this would create some thorny political issues for HBO, but the reality is that in a multi-channel, multi-platform and multi-screen world, there's no inherent justification for requiring that your customers purchase your wares through a cable company. Such a model is an artifact of a different era.

With this in mind, the long-term success of HBO Go may eventually depend more on HBO expanding the number of places it can acquire new subscribers rather than expanding the number of places its content can be accessed by existing subscribers.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 February, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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