Comcast, FX Test Live TV/VOD Hybrid For ‘The Bridge’

Offered Early Access To Show's Next Episode On VOD
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Comcast confirmed that the MSO and FX just wrapped up a trial in which viewers could watch the next episode of The Bridge on VOD (paired with a regular ad load) after the current episode debuted on live TV each Wednesday night.

The just- completed trial allowed Comcast subs to get an early look at the following week’s episode on VOD during the first six weeks of The Bridge’s second season on FX, a Comcast official said, confirming word of the trial in USA Today.

The trial was limited to Comcast’s VOD platform for the set-top box – including its native set-top boxes and newer devices that run the MSO’s new, cloud-powered X1 service.

While the trial offered viewers with a way to binge on a couple of episodes at a time, and get a head start of other fans of the FX original, the early window also gave those viewers a new reason to jump into Comcast’s VOD service.

Comcast won’t talk about the results of the trial with FX, but confirmed that other programmers have approached the MSO about the idea.

Speaking at the Next TV conference in March, Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager, video services at Comcast Cable, noted that, with X1, Comcast is seeing a blurring of lines between live TV, on-demand and the DVR. “At the end of the day, these are just choices to the customer,” he said. Comcast and a subset of programmers have also been testing an On Demand Credit Rating (ODCR) model that aims to encourage binge-viewing of TV episodes in a given season while also splicing in the C3 ad load.

Comcast has been testing other Netflix-like concepts that encourage binge-viewing. Of recent note, the MSO has been beta testing a feature for X1 called “Next Episode Suggestions” that tees up the next episode in a series after a customer finishes watching the previous episode, noting if it’s offered on VOD, stored on the DVR or offered for direct digital purchase.

While the trial FX looks to encourage limited binge-viewing while preserving the advertising, Comcast hasn’t ignored the continued popularity of DVRs. 

In addition to a new Cloud DVR service (offered in markets such as Atlanta, Chicago, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.),  Comcast is also testing out a new X1 DVR service that lets customers record up to 15 shows at the same time. Instead of utilizing the new cloud DVR offering, that pilot service is a localized option for the MSO’s AnyRoom DVR service that combines the storage and tuning capabilities of three X1 HD-DVRs.