Cable Operators

Iger Opens Comcast’s Free-VOD Door

12/08/2004 10:55 AM Eastern

New York -- The Walt Disney Co. president and chief operating officer Robert Iger told a group of investors Wednesday that the media giant could be open to allowing Comcast Corp. to place some of its content on the MSO’s free-video-on-demand service as part of a wider programming deal.

Comcast has repeatedly said that it would only pay for new VOD content, and not repurposed programming that it already pays for. And Disney has countered in the past that it would want to be paid for all of its content, no matter the format.

Iger’s comments at the Credit Suisse First Boston Media and Telecom Week conference here appeared to signal that a compromise could be reached.

“We are engaged in discussions with Comcast about the distribution of all of our services,” Iger said. “As part of that discussion, Comcast has expressed a great interest in content for their video-on-demand platform. It’s likely that if we do a deal, it will include some video-on-demand component. How much has yet to be determined.”

But Iger alluded that Disney is not quite ready to give away the entire VOD store.

“One of the things we need to be careful about is protecting value,” he said. “We know the people who have [TiVo Inc. digital-video recorders] watch more TV. I think that is going to be the case when there is more video-on-demand out there, but we want to make sure we are paid adequately for it.”

He continued, “It’s unlikely that we will be able to use it to just aggregate consumption and sell that story to advertisers. So I think we have to ultimately get paid. The question is how much we make available on a free basis to prime the pump in the marketplace, and then you upsell the great stuff. We’re in discussions in that regard.”

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