Comcast preps On Demand Online launch; AT & T launches portal
After conducting a trial last month with 5,000 subscribers, Comcast said it will launch its On Demand Online Internet video service nationwide before the end of year, while AT&T officially launched its Internet video Web portal today.
According to ZDnet.com, Steve Burke, Comcast’s COO, said the service will launch nationally as a pilot in the next 30 to 60 days. Burke’s comments were from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference.
Comcast announced in June that it was partnering with Time Warner on the latter’s TV Everywhere concept, which Comcast calls On Demand Online. The technical hurdle to date has been the authentication process, which allows Comcast subscribers to access the video content via the Internet on Comcast’s Fancast and Comcast.net Web portals.
“Anyone who subscribes to cable should get a lot of that video as long as they first prove they are subscribers,” Burke said in the ZDnet.com story.
Comcast currently has 24 channels for its On Demand Online service. Time Warner Cable announced last month that it would also conduct a trial with 5,000 users for its TV Everywhere service, while Verizon has also announced a trial of its own in partnership with Time Warner.
AT&T has countered with the official launch of its AT&T Entertainment portal, which went up last week during beta testing.
AT&T said the Web portal was a key piece of its three-screen strategy, offering video content to PCs, TVs and wireless phones. While Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast are offering their services to their subscribers, AT&T’s Web portal is available to any Internet user, although AT&T has said additional content will be available to its own subscribers.
"We know our customers want to be able to access their favorite content anytime, anywhere," said Dan York, executive vice president of content and programming at AT&T. "AT&T Entertainment provides the one-stop destination to watch your favorite TV shows and movies on your PC, wherever you have a broadband connection. The site will grow and evolve to make more content available to consumers in new and better ways."
TV shows on the Web portal include NBC’s “The Office” and “30 Rock,” as well as CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother.”
Some shows, such as “My Name is Earl,” have links to the same programs on Hulu’s Web site. To date, Hulu hasn’t had access to CBS’ shows, but AT&T has CBS listed as one of the networks on its new Web portal. CBS is also taking part in Time Warner Cable’s and Comcast’s online services.
In addition to CBS, AT&T also lists USA, CNBC, Bravo and Syfy – all of which are owned by NBCU – ABC, ABC Family, PBS, Universal and MGM among the content providers for its Web portal.
AT&T said today that it’s able to offer NBC Universal content via an agreement with Hulu. Hulu, which is co-owned by NBC Universal, News Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners, has been one of the most successful over-the-top Internet video providers to date.
AT&T data and video subscribers who visit AT&T Entertainment can also sign in to access U-verse Web Remote Access, an application that allows them to schedule and manage DVR recordings directly from their PCs.