NEW YORK – Pay cable TV network HBO, whose shows such as "The Sopranos" have earned critical acclaim, will launch an Internet channel with original programming early next year in partnership with AOL.
The cable television network said the new site, called "This Just In," will feature original programming and not full-length shows from the cable network.
Putting HBO shows online could risk angering cable affiliates and operators who charge subscribers fees to watch the network.
HBO sees the new site, which will replace AOL's Comedy channel, as a breeding ground for new programs that could be shown on other HBO services such as its cable network.
Both companies are units of media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. (TWX).
Although AOL has launched a high speed Internet video site that offers television shows, user-contributed video clips and movies for free and on a pay per view basis, including from corporate sibling Warner Bros., HBO programming is not currently available on it.
AOL will handle the ad sales for the new network. In a joint statement, the companies said they plan to work with advertisers to create programming with marketing messages.
"For advertisers, this is the first time they can connect to the HBO brand," Jim Bankoff, executive vice president of consumer and publisher services at AOL, said in a statement.
HBO offers clips of some of its shows through Cingular's wireless phone service.
Steve Stanford, founder of Internet comedy site Icebox.com and co-founder of youth-targeted cellphone service Amp'd Mobile, will run the new service.
The site, at http://www.thisjustin.com, will be launched in the first quarter of next year.