Comcast -- looking to demonstrate it has a groundswell of support from programmers for its On Demand Online concept -- announced that it has agreements to add content from 17 additional cable networks as part of a 5,000-subscriber test nationwide this month.
The MSO will serve up content from Cablevision Systems' Rainbow Media, Scripps Networks, A&E Television Networks, Comcast Networks, Hallmark, MGM Impact and BBC America through the trial, which initially will provide video through Comcast.net and Fancast.com to subscribers who take both cable TV and broadband services.
"We are thrilled to partner with all of these popular cable networks to significantly expand the premium content available for the On Demand Online trial," Matt Bond, Comcast's executive vice president of content acquisition, said in a statement. "Today's announcement highlights the industry's growing interest to bring long-form content to consumers via a secure and easy to use online platform."
Earlier Tuesday, Comcast announced a similar agreement with CBS. Both HBO and Starz Entertainment are also on board, and Showtime Networks said it's in discussions about participating.
Comcast originally outlined the plans for the "authentication" trial last month together with Time Warner Inc., which will provide episodes from TNT and TBS shows. The two companies presented a united front that synthesized Time Warner's "TV Everywhere" concept - which would let cable subscribers access programming from any participating Web site in an open, decentralized manner - and Comcast's approach, which has been designed to deliver video only through the operator's own entertainment portals.
At this point, major cable programmers that have not indicated whether they'll be in the mix include Discovery Communications; Viacom's MTV Networks, whose properties include Nickelodeon and Comedy Central; NBC Universal, which owns USA Network and Bravo; and Disney/ABC Television Group.
The 17 cable networks Comcast announced are: A&E, AMC, BBC America, DIY Network, Fine Living Network, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, History, IFC, MGM Impact, Sundance Channel, We TV, E! Entertainment, The Style Network, G4 and FearNet.
Full-length episodes from those networks to be part of On Demand Online include: The Prisoner, Bridezillas, Ice Road Truckers, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Cooking for Real and Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane. Comcast plans to include additional content such as AMC's Mad Men and Breaking Bad in the coming months.
"At Rainbow, we're huge supporters of efforts like Comcast's On Demand Online, which provides us with a technology that would allow us to make Rainbow's critically acclaimed original content available on multiple platforms in a consumer-friendly way," Rainbow Network Sales president Bob Broussard said, in a statement.
Lynne Costantini, Scripps' executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing, added: "Viewers want access whenever and wherever they happen to be, and we're committed to providing it in a manner that adds value to the viewing experience while also enhancing our current business relationships with distributors. We're looking forward to participating in the Comcast On Demand Online trial."