Comcast’s On-Demand Discovery

6/20/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

Comcast Corp. subscribers will have access to on-demand versions of American Chopper, Trading Spaces and dozens of other Discovery Networks U.S. titles by summer’s end.

Under an agreement Comcast plans to announce today, Discovery will supply the MSO with 70 hours monthly of programs from its various networks, including TLC, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and FitTV.

With the addition of the Discovery programming, Comcast will boost its library of free on-demand content to 1,800 hours. The Philadelphia-based MSO also distributes free on-demand content from Viacom Inc. cable networks, BBC America, Boomerang, Cable News Network, Cartoon Network, Court TV, C-SPAN, The Golf Channel, Outdoor Life Network and Wisdom TV.

More deals with cable programmers are on the way, according to Comcast executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service Dave Watson.

“There is growing interest from the programming community, and there is certainly a path to double that [1,800-hour library] within the next two to three years,” Watson said.

Marketed as “On Demand,” Comcast debuted its VOD platform in Philadelphia in January 2003.

Comcast offers the service nationwide on about half of its systems. About 50% of Comcast digital subscribers on more mature free VOD markets such as Philadelphia use the service at least once monthly, Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said.

Executives with Comcast and with other MSOs that have rolled out free VOD services say they believe the product helps differentiate cable from its satellite competitors, DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network

“This is something we do that satellite can’t match,” Watson said.

Comcast hasn’t yet inserted any advertising into the VOD programming it runs from basic cable networks. Watson said programmers on the free VOD platform typically run tune-in spots for their linear networks during the VOD shows, or national spots that run on their linear networks.

Subscribers can fast-forward through ads that run during the On Demand shows with a click of the remote.

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