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Comcast Adds Free VOD Day

3 Jun, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

No. 1 cable operator Comcast Corp. is offering video-on-demand (VOD) customers an additional free 24-hour rental period this month on select new releases (same day as DVD), including the June 9 release of Gran Trorino, the June 16 release of The Cell 2 and Friday the 13th as well as the June 23 release Inkheart.

Additional two-day VOD titles include My Bloody Valentine (also available in 3-D), Razortooth, New in Town, Octane and Kaidan. New releases 12 Rounds and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (June 30) are available only for 24-hour rental.

All titles are available in high-definition.

Philadelphia-based Comcast, which has released more than half of its new movies the same day as DVD this year, will offer additional extended viewing windows on titles from Warner Bros. and Lionsgate, with additional content from The Walt Disney Co. and Summit Entertainment to follow in July.

“We led this collaborative effort on behalf of the industry, and it now has significant momentum as a true win-win for MSOs (multiple service operators) and studios,” said Derek Harrar, SVP and GM of video services for Comcast.

Warner has championed same-day VOD releases with packaged media arguing that the greater margins (relative to physical rental) and scant cannibalization of sellthrough justify the strategy.

Sanford Berstein analyst Michael Nathanson said the 48-hour VOD window could lead to higher take-up rates for participating studios, which would be good relative to other rental models.

Independent analyst Rob Enderle said Comcast likely received concessions from studios for the extended rental period. He doubted the additional 24-hour period would impact Netflix since it allows subscribers to keep rentals indefinitely.

“Unless Netflix figures out how to deliver a disc in an hour or Comcast offers movies under a subscription model, I don’t think these two are competing for the same viewer,” Enderle said. 
Indeed, Tom Hannah, owner of Video Quest in Joliet, Ill., said the extended VOD rental window is a non-issue to rentailers.

“Most people watch VOD immediately after ordering a movie, not the next day,” Hannah said.

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