Comcast: HDTV VOD Is ‘Tremendous’ Weapon

Boston -- Comcast Corp. is testing offering HDTV video-on-demand, which it sees as yet another potential “tremendous offensive” weapon against direct-broadcast satellite competition, an official from the nation’s largest MSO said Monday during a panel session here.

Page Thompson, vice president of national marketing and new-video products for Comcast Cable Communications Inc., made reference to the operator’s HDTV VOD testing during a CTAM Summit panel on “The Conundrum of Marketing on Demand and DVRs.”

For the test, Comcast is offering a package of movies in HDTV on-demand, charging subscribers $5.95 per movie, according to Thompson.

These HDTV VOD tests are being done in two Comcast markets. One is outside of Philadelphia, Thompson said, declining to comment on exactly where the second test is being conducted.

The ability to offer subscribers a package of HDTV movies on-demand, in combination with local sports programming in HDTV, is a compelling proposition to consumers and an edge against DBS, Thompson said.

During the panel, Jeff Calman, executive VP of pay-per-view and VOD for Warner Bros. Home Video, said his company isn’t opposed in theory to HDTV offerings being made available on-demand.

But he added that Warner Bros. won’t sign off on such an arrangement currently out of fear that video bootleggers will copy its movies from that enhanced viewing platform, then sell them.

The studio doesn’t want “its best product put on some DVR [digital-video recorder] and then stolen,” Calman said.