At our NewTeeVee Live conference this morning, Comcast Interactive Media (s CMCSA) President Amy Banse narrowed down the time line for how soon customers will be able to use On-Demand Online service, which will allow subscribers to access premium cable content on their PCs. The verdict? Sometime before Hanukkah.
“If you were to present On-Demand Online to me as a gift, would it be a Hanukkah gift, or a Christmas gift, or maybe a Kwanzaa gift?” NewTeeVee co-editor Chris Albrecht asked.
“I can’t be very specific, but I can say that we will be able to accommodate all religious groups,” Banse replied. Later, she reiterated that the service would become available to subscribers sometime in early December, before the Jewish holiday begins on Dec. 11.
Banse gave additional details about the upcoming service. For instance, the On-Demand Online authentication scheme will require a user to download an application and log in to Fancast from home before the device is tied to the subscriber’s account. Once that’s done, a subscriber will be able to access content from the device from any broadband device. Each subscriber home will be able to connect from up to three different devices. Comcast will also require users to download and install the Move Networks plug-in to use the On-Demand Online service.
The key to the On-Demand Online service is not that users will be able to access content on their PCs, but that they will be able to view the content whenever and wherever they want, according to Banse. “Users are not as interested in the online portion, as they’re interested in it because it’s on demand,” Banse said. “We think they should be able to access or consume it where they want and where they want it.”
Despite the growth of online video services not tied to cable subscriptions, Banse said she didn’t see very much actual cord-cutting happening. While some in the industry talk about online video cannibalizing traditional TV services, Banse suggested that online services and cable services will continue to coexist.
“That’s not to say that we’re not mindful of the phenomenon, but more people bought a package of multichannel content last year than ever before, and they spent more time watching a package of multichannel content than ever,” Banse said. “I think what’s going to happen is that consumers are going to have choice. It’s not going to be a winner-take-all.”