Comcast On Demand Online – NewTeeVee interview

I’m sorry that I couldn’t attend this year’s NewTeeVee Live event as I had in prior years.  Cliff notes here.

NewTeeVee’s Chris Albrecht’s interview here with Comcast’s Amy Blanse regarding Comcast’s TV Everywhere, already in trial since July and ready to launch in December, provides good insights into what TV Everywhere means for Comcast. 

First off, TV Everywhere is an industry initiative (cable, satellite, and telcos) where you can access certain networks you subscribe to both through the primary distributor and through the programmers’ website.  For Comcast specifically, you can have access to your specific packages’ On Demand content online.  If you currently subscribe to HBO through Comcast, then you can have online access to the HBO On Demand library via Comcast.net or Fancast.com on your computer/laptop.  Viewing requires a player download and a  1X authentication requires a download (per device, up to 3 devices allowed).  Once your laptop is authenticated, you can take your laptop anywhere and still have the same On Demand access.

Are there concerns within Comcast of cord-cutting (cutting off the cable service for on-line only services like Hulu)?  While Comcast is not seeing that right now, they are aware of the phenomenon and are watching trends very carefully.  Ultimately, there will probably be a mix of models rather than a winner-take-all situation.  Comcast’s goal is to be a facilitator between the programmer and consumer, allowing consumers to see their content when they want and how they want (cross platforms).  You go online and search for Entourage and you are presented with a list of consumption options:  download PPV during an early release window, view it on cable at X day and time, watch it on your mobile phone, etc.  And to add what Quincy Smith of CBS Interactive outlined, the goal is to dynamically insert ads around each one of those views based on what you like and where you are (e.g. location-based ads on mobile).

Ad loads and release windows still open and will wait and see what consumers respond to.  Comcast and the industry is working with Nielsen to make sure that programmers get credit for online views. 

FYI, Comcast On Demand Online downloads count towards their 250 Mb metered broadband caps.  Over-the-top (OTT) internet to TV box converters (boxee, XboxLive) boasting of poised growth.  Can they surpass the Comcast On Demand Online?  Or  hope to get a decent share of the pie.

Note that, employer or not, I do not always agree with Comcast on many levels, but I am impressed with what I’m seeing from the Comcast Interactive Group here.  I’ve said in prior comments here  that it’s going to take the strong arms and extensive programming partnerships of a Comcast, TW, or DISH to gather enough programmers – especially subscription-based, premium networks like HBO – to participate in On Demand Online.  But to be the facilitator (uber distributor, if you will) between programmers and consumers wherever and whenever they want to watch – well, pretty Comcastic-ly-sized ambitions, don’t you think?  Not a bad ambition to have.

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