updated 1/3/2007 9:21:56 PM ET 2007-01-04T02:21:56

Showtime Networks Inc. is branching out into the video game industry with a joint venture to offer games to high-speed Internet service providers.

The CBS Corp.-owned cable channel behind such shows as "Weeds" and "The L Word" is joining with game publisher Broadband Libraries LLC to form "On Broadband." The new company will offer a private label game service for cable TV companies and DSL broadband providers.

The service, expected to launch in the second quarter of this year, will offer a collection of games that can be downloaded or played online. Some offerings will be free and some available for purchase. A subscription option will also be available.

Game-related content, including reviews, cheats and tricks will also be offered, the companies said.

"While it might not seem like a natural, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense for Showtime," Matthew Blank, chairman and chief executive of Showtime Networks told The Associated Press Wednesday.

"We are used to dealing with a premium customer. We have the marketing and promotional expertise to be in those businesses."

Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a division of Time Warner Inc. that operates Turner Classic Movies and other cable channels, launched a broadband game network, GameTap, in 2005.

On Broadband is designed to boost the offerings of broadband providers and tap into the fast-growing demand for video games, the companies said. While consumers rush to buy new game consoles from Sony Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co., the personal computer remains the largest installed base for playing games, they said.

On Broadband will handle all back-office tasks, including the sale and delivery of games. But the service will bear the brand of the local cable or DSL company instead of the "Showtime" brand.

"Cable operators have tried to populate their home pages with any sort of entertainment they can," said Peter von Schlossberg of Broadband Libraries, who will serve as the joint venture's general manager.

"We believe (the service) should be in their name and be delivered to them and passed along to consumers as they like."

Financial details were not disclosed. The venture will see revenue from fees from broadband companies, subscriptions, the sale of games and advertising, the companies said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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