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Study Backs Free, Ad-Suppported VOD

A majority of viewers would rather get their on-demand TV without additional incremental cost, but with commercials intact, than download it commercial-free for a price.

That is the conclusion of a telephone survey of 800 people by reserach firms North Points North Group and Horowitz Associates.

According to the survey, when asked whether, if they missed their favorite show, they would rather order it online for $1.99 over the Internet--the iPod video and other IPTV services model--or get it free through their cable or satellite service with ads intact, 62% favored the free, ad-supported programming.

The service wouldn't be exactly free from cable and satellite, since the cost would be bundled into that of the entire pay service, but it would be free of any additional per-program cost.

By contrast, only 17% picked the $1.99 option, with 21% undecided. The study did not lower the price point to see if that made a difference. Some services are charging 99 cents per, others more. Gay net Here!, for example, is asking $3.99 per show on Google.

Comcast, for one, is counting on both ads and per-show pricing. In a video on demand deal announced in November, it is making four CBS network hits--CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; NCIS; Survivor; and The Amazing Race --available for 99 cents, with ads included, within a few hours of their initial airing.The study was not funded by any outside company, according to a spokesperson.