CBS To Sow Content In Comcast's Internet TV Walled Garden

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Comcast announced CBS will be the first broadcast partner to participate in the cable operator's technical trial of On Demand Online, a service that promises cable TV subscribers a slew of extra video content on the Web for no additional charge.

CBS did not specify which content it would provide as part of Comcast's 5,000-household nationwide test, to begin later this month, but the broadcaster said it "plans to test various types of current and library content."

CBS-owned Showtime Networks is not currently in the operator's Internet TV lineup, but Showtime spokesman Stu Zakim said the premium network is currently engaged in talks with Comcast about participating.

Both Time Warner Inc.'s HBO and Starz Entertainment have announced that they'll be engaged in the Comcast trial.

Comcast originally announced the trial in partnership with Time Warner's TNT and TBS, Other networks have also said they plan to take part, including Rainbow Media, Scripps Networks, A&E Television Networks and Comcast Networks.

CBS notably is the only major broadcaster that has not taken part in Hulu, the joint venture whose owners include News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and NBC Universal. Hulu provides free, ad-supported episodes from ABC, NBC and Fox, as well as a more limited selection of cable network content.

"CBS is very supportive of initiatives that help extend our content to new platforms in such a way that we gain new audiences and additional value for our advertisers," CBS Interactive CEO Quincy Smith said in a statement.

In addition to full-length epsiodes on its CBS.com and TV.com sites, the company distributes content through partners including AOL, Fancast, MSN, Veoh, Yahoo and YouTube.

"Comcast is already a trusted platform to distribute CBS content on air as well as on demand; expanding this relationship online is a logical step. In addition, CBS's strategy has always been about open, nonexclusive distribution of our content in a consumer friendly way, which is a core tenant of TV Everywhere and On Demand Online."

Comcast expects to launch On Demand Online nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2009, assuming the technical trials are successful.

Initially, content will available only through Comcast.net and Fancast.com, only to Comcast broadband and cable TV subscribers at home over their cable-modem service. Comcast has said it's primarily interested in testing the authentication mechanism in the trial.

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