Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc are talking with owners of major cable television networks about ways to give cable subscribers online access to much of the networks' programing, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.

Discussions have taken place in recent months and include network owners such as General Electric Co's NBC Universal, Time Warner Inc and Viacom Inc, which own such networks as MTV, TNT and USA, the newspaper said on its website on Thursday, citing the people.

The operators hope the Web services, which could launch this year, will attract new subscribers despite popular free-to-watch Web sites such as, by offering a large amount of previously unavailable video, the newspaper said. is a joint venture of NBC Universal and News Corp.

According to the newspaper, NBC Universal said it is intrigued by the idea and participating in a test, Viacom's MTV Networks called the concept a great testing ground, and a spokeswoman for Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting confirmed it had met with operators.

The newspaper also quoted Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts as saying in an interview: Online video is our friend, not our enemy.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Anshuman Daga)