Comcast Might Ante Up for Original VOD Fare

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New Orleans -- In what would be a shift, Comcast Corp. is considering compensating programmers for original content for video-on-demand, one of the MSO’s top executives said Monday.

“If it’s completely new incremental content, unique to the channel lineup, then I think we are beginning -- let me put it this way -- we are beginning to be open to discussions of paying something for that content,” executive vice president of programming Amy Banse said while moderating a panel on VOD at the National Show here.

Banse’s remarks would mark a softening of the hard line that the nation’s largest MSO has taken in the past regarding VOD content.

During the session, Banse reiterated Comcast’s past position that it is unwilling to pay networks incremental fees for VOD content. Comcast is “paying a lot of money for a lot of programming already,” and the MSO doesn’t feel that it should give networks more money for fare from linear networks that is simply reformatted for VOD, she said.

VOD “is good for everybody” because it helps cable operators to retain subscribers and it gives networks more exposure for their shows, she added.

During the panel, both Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group, and Josh Sapan, president of Rainbow Media Holdings Inc., discussed the original content they are offering for VOD. Cartoon Network will create original content for a new “Adult Swim” VOD offering, while Rainbow has Mag Rack.

On the ad-agency side, panelist Joe Uva, president of OMD Worldwide, said he wanted to see evidence of a commitment from cable operators that they are going to put resources behind VOD to promote it and raise consumer awareness about it, and that they will make original content available for it.

But Joe Abruzzese, president of ad sales for Discovery Networks U.S., raised his concerns about the impact of VOD on advertising several times during the session, saying that it could “disrupt” the landscape for national advertising by cannibalizing audience from shows on linear networks. “There is some real downside,” Abruzzese said.

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