On the call: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

Wed, 11/04/2009 - 7:15am
The Associated Press

(AP) – Comcast Corp.'s answer to the growing popularity of watching video over the Internet is to launch its own online video service in December that would let subscribers view cable TV shows and movies on their PCs at no additional charge.

While the cable TV industry has been a bit wary of online video because viewers could then bypass their cable systems, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has decided to go head-to-head with the trend.

By the end of the year, Comcast will be the first cable TV operator to unlock cable content en masse for its customers. At present, most cable shows typically would be available over the Internet only by buying it from other services, such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes, or if downloaded illegally.

The nation's largest cable TV operator, now also the biggest Internet service provider, has joined forces with two dozen cable networks and broadcasters to launch the service. Initially dubbing it "On Demand Online," Comcast said it will be changing the brand name.

Time Warner Cable Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and DirecTV Group Inc. are planning to offer a similar service.

Now, Apple is reportedly gunning for the pay-TV industry by selling a TV service through iTunes that costs $30 a month.

QUESTION: Do you see this as a long-term threat to Comcast?

ANSWER: "I've been saying for a long time that I think video over the Internet is more friend than foe. ... Specifically to the Apple reports, let's wait and see what does materialize. I read the reports myself. I think there are many folks who want to deliver parts of the experience.

"I think a little bit goes back to [the] question, which is: ‘Why can't we have the most robust experience right to the TV set, right from Comcast Cable?’ And I think we very much take all these possibilities and use it as a galvanizing mechanism inside the company to come up with better and more innovative products."

More Broadband Direct 11/04/09:
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•  Comcast snags 10 major VOD movies same day as DVD releases
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•  On the call: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts
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