CBS (s CBS) announced today that it will become the first broadcast network to join Comcast’s (s CMSCA) OnDemand Online trial program this summer. According to the press release, the partnership will “expand the number of top-rated TV shows available online,” but didn’t provide any specifics about programming.
Typically, authentication initiatives like Comcast’s OnDemand Online are associated with content from cable networks, making that content available only to those who have a cable subscription. CBS
doesn’t own a cable network (Update: we forgot CBS has the CBS College Sports Network, we weren’t lumping in Showtime because it’s a bit of a different beast); its content is broadcast freely over the air and is already available on Comcast-owned Fancast, so exactly what content will go behind a pay wall remains to be seen.
CBS is certainly not shy about spreading its content around online. It offers video content on its own site as well as the CBS Interactive-owned TV.com, YouTube, Joost and the aforementioned Fancast. The only place CBS doesn’t show its content is Hulu.
For its part, Comcast is on a roll, signing up a number of high-profile partnerships lately. It kicked off with Time Warner (s TWX) last month, nabbed Starz last week, and just yesterday picked up HBO and Cinemax. More are sure to follow as other networks like Scripps, Rainbow and A&E
are reportedly close to jumping onboard as well they just jumped on-board, see below:
UDATE: When it rains it pours, Comcast followed up this morning’s CBS announcement with news that 17 more networks have signed up for OnDemand Online including A&E, BBC America, Food Network, and AMC.
COMCAST ADDS 17 MORE CABLE NETWORKS TO ON DEMAND ONLINE TRIAL
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 Comcast.net and Fancast.com. 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.”
This announcement 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, pro-competitive and at no additional cost to customers.
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.