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CBS joins TV Everywhere trial

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Another first today for Comcast's On Demand Online trial: CBS Corp. announced it would take part in the test, becoming the first broadcast network to do so.

Comcast will begin allowing 5,000 of its cable subscribers to watch cable content online later this month as part of a test of TV Everywhere, an initiative it began with Time Warner Inc. last month.

TV Everywhere would allow cable companies to play in the online space by giving their customers online access to the same content they get on their TV, provided those content providers sign on. Cable customers will have to login to stream content, though Comcast said it plans to add downloads for on-the-go viewing and other features during the test.

Yesterday, HBO said it would offer its shows through Comcast in the trial, following Starz and Time Warner cable channels TBS and TNT.

post #2 of 5
JULY 15, 2009

More than a dozen TV networks -- including broadcaster CBS Corp. -- agreed to join Comcast Corp.'s nationwide test of an online-video subscription offering, as companies seek additional revenue streams amid the advertising slump.

Comcast, in a plan it calls "On Demand Online," will offer a Web authentication system that will allow 5,000 Comcast customers in markets across the country to verify their cable-TV subscription in order to access programming online at Comcast's Fancast.com and Comcast.net sites at no extra cost.

Financial details of the agreement weren't disclosed.

Broadcasters like CBS have been putting popular TV content online for free on ad-supported Web sites like Hulu. Unlike their cable counterparts, broadcast networks depend mostly on ad revenue and have little incentive to limit access to their content in order to help pay-TV distributors preserve their business.

Hulu is a joint venture of media companies, including News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal.

CBS has made much of its programming available at its own video site, TV.com, but the company has made progress recently in increasing carriage fees that it gets from distributors to complement its ad revenue. Its participation in the trial signals the growing importance that carriage fees have to broadcast TV as ad markets suffer through the recession and Web players like Google Inc. steal market share.

The agreements signal that a critical mass of major players in the TV business are lining up behind a concept championed by Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes known as "TV Everywhere," which aims to preserve the industry's lucrative subscription business model amid the rise of online video.

"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," said Matt Bond, executive vice president of content acquisition with Comcast.

In addition to CBS, the other networks include cable network AMC, owned by Cablevision Systems Corp.; the Food Network, owned by Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.; and BBC America, owned by the BBC. Along with others, they joined Time Warner's HBO and Turner networks as well as Liberty Media Corp.'s Starz.

The trial will provide online access for Comcast's TV subscribers to some of TV's most popular programming, including HBO shows like "Entourage" and "True Blood" and TNT's "The Closer." AMC's "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" are expected to be included later this summer, and the offering will also include major Hollywood films like "The Dark Night" and "Juno."

Other broadcast giants such as News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and NBC Universal have yet to participate, although A&E Television Networks, which is participating, is part-owned by Disney and NBC Universal. Comcast, however, is still holding talks with most TV companies in an effort to bring more into the fold.

Comcast and Time Warner recently agreed on a framework for putting programming from cable networks online to satisfy consumer demand while still requiring customers to subscribe to a TV service in order to prevent an erosion in their revenue base.

Mr. Bewkes has said he envisions an industrywide authentication platform that will allow subscribers to any pay-TV service to access programming online on PCs and mobile devices.

Write to Nat Worden at nat.worden@dowjones.com
post #3 of 5
Plans To Include Too Many Ads from the of-course-they'd-screw-it-up... dept

We've already been incredibly skeptical of the plans by certain cable companies to get TV networks to limit their content such that it can only be accessed online if you have a cable TV subscription. The whole thing is based on setting up artificial barriers and artificial scarcity to hold back the inevitable. Such plans never do well. They piss off users and drive them to alternatives. And, of course, you just knew that the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable would like screw up the execution too. Many folks (myself included) have been surprised at how well (for the most part) Hulu executed, but just leave it to big cable companies not to learn from Hulu's success.

Reports are coming out claiming that when the shows are put online for this "TV Everywhere" program they'll include the full slate of ads seen during the regular TV version. Studies have shown that this is a bad, bad idea. Having so many commercials -- especially on a platform (the internet) with so many other options, simply drives people away. Hulu learned very quickly to limit the number of ads to just a few -- and it's discovered that (1) people actually pay attention to them and (2) they can charge higher rates. One more sign that this TV Everywhere program is a disaster in the making.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hehe... The customer will speak and they will have to react.

The cable companies just don't get it. They are still trying to live under the old model where they had absolute control. I read an article recently about the music industry and internet radio. The analogy was that the music industry has consistently squeezed the juice out of even the smallest lemon instead of giving it time to come to fruition.

That is how the cable companies are treating video over the internet.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
What they said...


We've discussed that while Time Warner Cable and Comcast's new Internet TV initiative might give consumers a reason to stick with cable by giving them "free access" to cable TV content online, but the plan has plenty of critics who think cable TV companies are engaged in a power play that simply forces their offline business model online -- ignoring market evolution. Now NewTeeVee indicates that advertising for the new system will be just like regular cable TV advertising -- except you won't be able to skip ads. More ads than services like Hulu and the inability to skip them like you can with DVRs seems like a business decision that's simply going to push customers to more (r)evolutionary alternatives.

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