NEW YORK: Time Warner Cable has signed up at least seven large media companies for the test of a new service that involves broadcasting TV programmes on the web to paying subscribers.

The move follows growing concern among US cable companies that too many householders are now cancelling their subscriptions in favour of free online programmes.

According to Nielsen figures, approximately 136 million people watched online videos last month; a 14% increase year-on-year.

Networks participating in the forthcoming trial are expected to include General Electric, TNT, Cablevision Systems and BBC America.

Other names being mooted are Discovery Communications and Viacom.

The test, which is likely to get underway quite soon, is expected to include around several thousand households in the coming months. Each will be obliged to prove they are Time Warner subscribers before they can access the programmes on offer. 

In July, Comcast signed up CBS to participate in the cable company's own trial to make more television shows available to subscribers on the web.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff