Comcast CFO: Olympics a ‘Game Changer’ for TV Everywhere19 Sep, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
The London Summer Olympics were a “game changer” in the tepid evolution of TV Everywhere platforms aimed at allowing authenticated subscribers 24/7 access to programming on myriad connected devices, including the living room television; Comcast Corp. CFO Michael Angelakis told an investor group.
Speaking Sept. 19 at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York, Angelakis said the No. 1 cable operator continues to juggle license fee increases and related costs as it expands distribution channels such as TV Everywhere for third-party content.
Reports suggest upwards of 10 million people accessed Olympic coverage on demand via Xfinity TV, NBC.com and related sites via the Internet instead of watching primetime broadcasts on NBC.
“The Olympics were a little bit of a game changer in terms of how many people utilized it and how the authentication model worked,” Angelakis said. “We are pretty positive about it. And we are working the programmers to get more and more rights on it.”
Launched with much fanfare by Time Warner and Comcast in 2010, TV Everywhere has stalled out of the gate as programmers balk at allowing access to their digital content without commiserate compensation, among other issues.
Those rights, which subscription video-on-demand pioneer Netflix has helped increase exponentially in value to content holders, now weigh significantly on the bottom lines of cable and satellite operators rolling out TV Everywhere platforms.
“We have continued to increase the number of choices on TV Everywhere,” Angelakis said. “We have 5 million people utilizing the service. We have several hundred thousand programming choices online and 8,000 hours available on the iPad. Those numbers are only going to increase.”
Meanwhile, the CFO said linear programming costs continue to escalate – a reality driven in part by sports programming costs, in addition to Comcast asking for more rights. Angelakis said that five years ago license rights involved negotiating linear and VOD distribution.
“Today, that discussion is a vastly different discussion,” he said, adding that Comcast now seeks rights to the linear feed and VOD, but iVOD, in-home, out-of-home access, tablets, smartphone, wireless, etc.
Indeed, Comcast last summer rolled out Xfinity Streampix, a $4.99 monthly SVOD add-on to cable subscribers offering fresher content and movies. Eventually, Comcast eyes Streampix as a stand-alone service competing against Netflix.
While securing content from NBC Universal – which it owns – might only affect programming offered on Hulu and Hulu Plus (which Comcast also co-owns via NBC Universal), gaining access to third-party fare has proven more difficult and expensive.
“It just goes on and on,” Angelakis said. “That makes for more complicated discussions that take longer to get done. It’s a challenge we are trying to work through.”