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Comcast Testing VOD with DVD Release

18 Dec, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Cable operator Comcast Communications is set to begin offering major studio films for video-on-demand the same day as their DVD release.

The service, which began Nov. 28 for a two month trial period in Denver and Pittsburgh, would offer major studio fare, including Superman Returns from Warner Home Video, Scoop (Universal Studios Home Entertainment), See No Evil (Lionsgate), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista Home Entertainment) and An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Home Entertainment).

The service would also offer movies and TV content from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and NBC Universal, respectively.

Movies would cost about $3.99 for a 24-hour viewing period. There is no download-to-own component and the titles do not include bonus material found on the DVD.

The program, if implemented nationally, would represent the first significant encroachment upon DVD's sacred 30-to-45-day release window with VOD. It would also validate cable TV's rise up the distribution food chain and subsequent desire for fresher material.

Warner Bros. has made no secret its desire to distribute product across multiple channels, including electronic sellthrough and rental, often at the same time.

Andrew Mellett, VP, on-demand, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, said the test is a means of determining consumer interest in the studio's product from the perspective of a new business model contrasted with the status quo.

"We are looking to determine if we see upside in the on-demand business as a result of the earlier [release] window," said Mellett. "We don't expect it to be cannibalistic."

Mellett said the move would allow for more efficient marketing synergies between the DVD and cable releases that would increase consumer awareness for particular titles.

"The people who want to buy the title will buy it and the people who want to rent it will rent it electronically or at the physical rental stores," Mellett said.

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