Comcast Tests HD Movie VOD

Comcast Corp. is testing an offer of HDTV video-on-demand, which it sees as yet another potential “tremendous offensive” weapon against direct-broadcast satellite, officials from the nation’s largest MSO said last week.

Page Thompson, vice president of national marketing and new video products for Comcast Cable Communications Inc., made reference to the HDTV VOD test during a CTAM Summit panel.

For the test, Comcast is offering a package of on-demand movies in HDTV, charging subscribers $5.95 per movie, according to Thompson. These HDTV VOD tests are being done in two markets. One is outside Philadelphia, Thompson said, while 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.

Jeff Calman, executive vice president 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 Warner Bros. won’t sign off on such as arrangement currently out of fear that video bootleggers will copy its movies from that platform and sell them.

The studio doesn’t want “its best product put on some DVR and then stolen.”