Comcast Readies Hispanic VOD

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Comcast Corp. is assembling a bevy of Spanish-language programming that it will offer to its systems in on-demand form in October before making it available to other operators later this year.

“It will be aggregating 100 to 200 hours of content from the best of the best of the Hispanic programming that’s available out there and putting it on for cable systems to distribute, first Comcast and then maybe bringing it to the industry sometime in December or January,” said Leslie Russell, vice president of sales and marketing for the Comcast Media Center.

The Comcast Media Center in Denver is a distribution platform that now offers additional VOD content to the MSO’s systems, augmenting the offerings from TVN Entertainment Inc. and In Demand. The media center is embarking on a Hispanic-VOD initiative that has been in the works for several months now, with hopes to launch it on Comcast systems beginning in October.

“This is a way to beef up the Hispanic offering,” Russell said. “There has been a demand for that, especially in your top Hispanic markets, where 12 or 20 [Spanish-language] channels in a linear format is just not enough programming.”

For a channel-locked system, Hispanic VOD programming can help provide a more comprehensive offering to compete against the 30 to 40 Spanish channels direct-broadcast satellite providers offer, according to Russell.

This summer, the media center held a VOD seminar in Denver for Spanish-language programmers that attracted 75 attendees, with content providers from Spain, Argentina, South America and Mexico, Russell said.

The purpose of the forum was “to educate these content providers on VOD and what it can do — how they can get their programming distributed domestically,” Russell said. “A lot of the Hispanic-content providers aren’t linear networks yet. … Some don’t have enough content to support a 24-hour network.

“We’re suggesting to them VOD might be a better opportunity for them, due to the fact that a lot of systems are channel-locked or already have a lot of the Hispanic programming available [that’s] out there on.”

The content that is part of the Hispanic VOD offering would be refreshed monthly.

“We’ve been working with the programmers and getting ready to put the packages together,” Russell said. “I don’t know what they’re really going to look like yet for an October launch. We don’t know if we’ll do Hispanic movies in one category, or half-hour shows in another.”

The Comcast Media Center is already distributing content on a VOD basis to 35 Comcast markets, and currently testing the offering with two other MSOs, said Russell.

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