CBS, Comcast On Demand Online partnership faces off premium vs. free internet streaming; 17 cable channels jump onboard

After stocking up on premium networks with HBO and Starz, Comcast's On Demand Online project has added its first broadcast TV partner, CBS. One of the worries regarding TV Everywhere / On Demand Online has been what it would mean for free streaming portals like Hulu, with broadcasters potentially shifting content behind pay-tv walls to keep people from dropping cable and satellite TV subscriptions. CBS has been the notable Hulu holdout, although it has also pushed forward with free streaming on its website, including March Madness and even upping the resolution of its Flash video to 1080p. Further conflicting the issue? 17 more cable networks (A&E, AMC, BBC America, DIY Network, Fine Living Network, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, History, IFC, MGM Impact, Sundance Channel, WE tv, E!, The Style Network, G4 and FEARnet) have also announced plans to join the 5,000 subscriber trial.

Just like the previous agreements, it appears customers should expect access during the trial to reflect a lot of what CBS and the others already offer through standard VOD but now with more placeshifting goodness. While media execs watch the bottom line, we're just hoping the stated CBS strategy of "open, non-exclusive distribution of our content in a consumer friendly way" (from the press release, available in full after the break) could push Hulu to add more HD, or at least unblock the PlayStation 3 & Windows Mobile.


Content from A&E, AMC, BBC America, DIY Network, Fine Living Network, Food Network, Hallmark, HGTV, History, IFC, MGM Impact, Sundance Channel, WE tv, E!, The Style Network, G4 and FEARnet

Trial Brings More Cable TV Content Online Free To Video Customers for the First Time

PHILADELPHIA, PA – July 14, 2009 – Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) today announced that it is partnering with Rainbow Media, Scripps, AETN, MGM Impact, and BBC to bring content from 17 more cable networks to consumers through Comcast's On Demand Online technical trial, accessible via and On Demand Online is a new service that will significantly expand the number of top-rated TV choices available online at no additional charge to Comcast's cable customers.

The new content for the On Demand Online trial will initially include select full length TV episodes and movies like The Prisoner, Bridezillas, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Cooking for Real and Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane with plans to include additional content such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad in the coming months. These shows and many more will be drawn from popular cable networks including A&E, AMC, BBC America, DIY Network, Fine Living Network, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, History, IFC, MGM Impact, Sundance Channel, WE tv, E! Entertainment, The Style Network, G4 and FEARnet. With existing content from HBO, TNT, TBS, Starz and CBS, the trial will offer hundreds of movies and TV shows most of which have never before been available online.

"We are thrilled to partner with all of these popular cable networks to significantly expand the premium content available for the On Demand Online trial," said Matt Bond, Executive Vice President of Content Acquisition for Comcast. "Today's announcement highlights the industry's growing interest to bring long-form content to consumers via a secure and easy to use online platform. Our goal for On Demand Online is to create a consumer-friendly service that significantly expands customer options to access their favorite TV content on any platform at any time, and we are pleased that so many content providers are partnering with us to make this goal a reality."

"At Rainbow, we're huge supporters of efforts like Comcast's On Demand Online, which provides us with a technology that would allow us to make Rainbow's critically acclaimed original content available on multiple platforms in a consumer-friendly way. This new initiative addresses one of the most exciting opportunities in television today, and we're pleased to partner with Comcast in this trial," said Bob Broussard, President, Rainbow Network Sales.

"We know that consumers actively seek our content on various platforms," said Lynne Costantini, Executive Vice President, Scripps Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing. "Viewers want access whenever and wherever they happen to be, and we're committed to providing it in a manner that adds value to the viewing experience while also enhancing our current business relationships with distributors. We're looking forward to participating in the Comcast On Demand Online trial."

"MGM's Impact VOD channel has seen impressive response from consumers, and with this Comcast trial, we'll be able to reach our customers in a secure online environment while expanding the reach of the Impact brand," said Jim Packer, Co-President, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

"Comcast On Demand Online will be a fantastic vehicle for Comcast customers to experience A&E and History's top rated series online anytime. Comcast customers can stay connected with their favorite shows like Intervention, Ice Road Truckers or Hammertime whenever they choose. This is a great win for our dedicated viewers and we are excited to be part of this trial launch," said David Zagin, Executive Vice President, Distribution, AETN.

Kristina M. Song, SVP, Network Sales & Distribution Strategy, BBC Worldwide said: "We know BBC AMERICA viewers are sophisticated and tech savvy from their extraordinarily high rate of DVR usage – and this is the next phase for them. We're very pleased to partner with Comcast to give their customers and our viewers as many ways as possible to view our shows."


As the First Broadcaster to Participate, CBS Agrees to Test Standards and Principles for "TV Everywhere" Model

NEW YORK and PHILADELPHIA, July 14, 2009 - CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A) and Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced today that CBS is the first broadcast network to participate in Comcast's technical trial of On Demand Online. The new service will significantly expand the number of top-rated TV shows available online and across platforms at no additional charge to Comcast's cable customers while delivering increased advertising value to content owners. During the course of the trial, CBS plans to test various types of current and library content.

"CBS and Comcast share the same vision of giving consumers more - more content, in more places," said Matt Bond, Executive Vice President of Content Acquisition, Comcast Cable. "On Demand Online is a major step in extending consumers' television experiences online, and ultimately across platforms by giving any television network, including top brands like CBS, the ability to make their content available on the Web."

"CBS is very supportive of initiatives that help extend our content to new platforms in such a way that we gain new audiences and additional value for our advertisers," said Quincy Smith, Chief Executive Officer, CBS Interactive. "Comcast is already a trusted platform to distribute CBS content on air as well as on demand; expanding this relationship online is a logical step. In addition, CBS's strategy has always been about open, non-exclusive distribution of our content in a consumer friendly way, which is a core tenant of TV Everywhere and On Demand Online."

CBS's participation in Comcast's technical trial comes on the heels of last month's joint announcement between Time Warner Inc. and Comcast which introduced a set of principles called "TV Everywhere." Developed by the two companies, the principles are designed to serve as a framework to facilitate deployment of online television content in a way that is consumer friendly and pro-competitive.

Comcast will begin its technical trial of On Demand Online with approximately 5,000 customers from across the U.S. in the coming weeks – the first national trial of its kind. A major focus of the trial is to test Comcast's new "authentication" technology, which will allow Comcast customers to receive the same content online for free that they subscribe to on TV. The service will utilize a simple log-on system for streaming content and, in the future, will allow for download content to go. The On Demand Online service will roll-out in phases, adding new features, functionality and content over time to provide consumers with a new way to watch television.

On Demand Online is part of Comcast's Project Infinity, the company's long-term vision to give customers an ever growing amount of video content on multiple platforms, whenever they want.