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Comcast: Studios Upping VOD Content

4 Nov, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable operator, Nov. 4 said Hollywood studios are increasingly warming to the idea of releasing new movies on video-on-demand at the same time of retail sellthrough.

Philadelphia-based Comcast said it would release the following titles in high-definition VOD the same day as DVD and Blu-ray Disc: I Love You, Beth Cooper, The Taking of Pelham 123, and Aliens in the Attic Nov. 3; The Ugly Truth (Nov. 10); My Sister's Keeper and Bruno (Nov. 17); Angels & Demons, Funny People, Four Christmases and Shorts Nov. 24.

“Everything about the day-and-date model is working,” said Derek Harrar, SVP and GM of video and entertainment services. “The studios are coming to us more and more with great films and our customers are enjoying the opportunity to watch newly released films as quickly as possible.”

Indeed, Comcast could use higher-profile VOD titles as it reported a 2.7% decline (132,000) in the number of monthly video subscribers for the third quarter (ended Sept. 30) as consumers opted for less-expensive digital services.

Jessica Reif Cohen, analyst with Merrill Lynch, in Comcast’s Nov. 4 financial call, characterized the cable operator’s VOD service as a “big opportunity lost” and lacking a robust consumer appeal.

Comcast COO Steve Burke agreed the VOD offerings could be improved.

“A key thing for us is getting movies day-and-date with [the] DVD release,” Burke said. “The studios, as they see the DVD business change and decline are looking to VOD, electronic sellthrough and other non-physical ways to distribute movies with a completely different mindset.”

The COO said educating consumers about VOD and improving the user interface remained a workable challenge.

“When people are aware of what we have with VOD, they use it a lot,” he said. “About 25 times a month. We’re chipping away at [the problem]. But I agree there is still a lot more potential to change people’s mindset.”

Indeed, studios declined to offer fourth-quarter home entertainment blockbusters Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on VOD the same day as packaged media.


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