Comcast Exec: Niche VOD Rising

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Littleton, Colo. -- Comcast Corp. vice president of video-on-demand content development and management Matt Strauss said specialty fare in categories like dating and home improvement has already developed a following among digital-cable customers.

He added that the MSO’s “Select On Demand” unit has launched 12 categories so far, and it plans to launch another 30 this year. Among those up already: “Dating on Demand,” a “Pre-K” service, “Home Improvement” and “Anime.”

The combined viewership of Select fare surpassed the combined viewership of basic-cable-network VOD programming in February, Strauss said at a Wednesday meeting of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s Rocky Mountain chapter held at the Comcast Media Center here.

He added that he’s looking for programming ideas that are either underserved on TV, like animation or dating, or that just work better on VOD, like fitness videos.

Comcast plans to expand Dating on Demand by allowing modem subscribers with Web cameras to submit their own video profiles. And the MSO will test a real-estate on-demand service next month. Other areas of “user-generated content” Comcast will examine are jobs, auctions and Internet blogs.

Usagewise, Strauss said Comcast generated 70 million VOD “views” in February, well on the way to generating 1 billion views this year. In Philadelphia, 60% of digital-set-top users tried VOD. The percentage of set-tops watching VOD will outpace the linear ratings of some cable networks if the trend continues, he added.

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