Comcast has thrown down the gauntlet against competitors such as Verizon and DirecTV with today's announcement that it expects to have more than 1,000 linear and HD VOD choices by the end of the year.
The announcement was slated to be part of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts' keynote address this morning at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but Comcast briefed the media on aspects of Roberts' speech yesterday.
Comcast's Derek Harrar, SVP and GM of video services, said the 1,000 HD choices would quadruple Comcast's current HD offerings. Harrar said Comcast also plans on filling out its movie library with about 6,000 titles per month throughout the next 12 to 18 months, with half of those available in HD. Comcast currently has 1,300 movies per month in its library.
The increased HD choices and expanded VOD library are two pieces of Comcast's "Project Infinity" that also includes the official launch of Fancast Web portal.
"Project Infinity is our internal code name for this grand vision," Harrar said. "If you sat down with a group of people and asked them what they wanted in 10 years, they would say it's this 'everything available on a TV' concept. It's about having everything on demand and it's the future of TV."
While Project Infinity is still in the infant stage, Harrar pointed to Comcast's track record of six billion VOD views since the launch of on demand in 2003 as proof of the company's expertise. Harrar said Comcast is the single-largest media buyer in the world, and it currently serves up 100 on-demand views per second.
Fancast is the third leg of Project Infinity. Fancast, which has been in beta mode, offers free episodes of shows from CBS, NBC and Fox through Comcast's relationship with Hulu, as well as other video content providers.
The site, which is open to everyone and not just Comcast subscribers, allows users to personalize and manage their viewing choices. Fancast has more than 3,000 hours of TV shows and other video content and will allow viewers to catch their favorite episodes via their computers when they're away from their TV sets.
Comcast is positioning itself to be the one-stop-shop for all things video. Competitors such as DirecTV may be able to offer more HD linear channels, but the satellite provider can't compete with Comcast's VOD and Fancast offerings.
Comcast also announced today that it has become the fourth-largest residential phone service provider in the U.S. The announcement comes less than three years after Comcast launched its VoIP service.
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