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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 17, 2012

Comcast Adds One More Network to Xfinity TV 'TV Everywhere'

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Comcast (News - Alert) and Scripps Networks Interactive announced today they have reached a long-term agreement to expand their relationship in bringing Scripps’ television networks content to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers throughout the United States, enabling people to view the content on tablets, PCs and smartphones.

SNI’s lifestyle networks include HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country, with highly rated shows such as “House Hunters,” “Chopped,” and “Hotel Impossible.”

The significance is that, step by step, Comcast, Verizon (News - Alert), AT&T, DirecTV, Dish Network and other providers slowly are winning approval to distribute some content and some networks typically available to subscription TV customers on a variety of other Internet-connected devices.

That does not yet mean consumers can buy those programs or networks directly from suppliers for Internet delivery. In fact, both video distributors and programming networks might well prefer, for good reasons, that that does not happen.

Still, there is a sort of inevitability to the gradual shift in viewing habits that could eventually prompt at least some suppliers to try Internet-direct sales. In some large part, the success rivals such as YouTube (News - Alert) and Netflix are able to obtain will be a factor in changing content executive thinking.

In all likelihood, the first breakthroughs will continue to be lead by individual artists and new or smaller networks, for a couple of reasons. Many artists believe that Internet-direct could be an important and lucrative new distribution venue and many are willing to experiment.

Also, at some point, more new networks will find it more difficult to gain carriage on the traditional video distribution networks, or might conclude that the costs of doing so make Internet-direct distribution more appealing.

That latter trend might become more important if video distributors decide they really must take big steps to avoid the rate increase spiral that is starting to worry more industry observers.

In the final analysis, the biggest hurdle to a more-robust Internet-direct business model is the willingness of content suppliers to make their products available in that format. Up to this point, the upside is deemed to be much smaller than the downside, so no widespread changes seem to be in the offing.

But every small step in that direction will create a more favorable climate for Internet-direct delivery, initially for new shows and networks. As YouTube and Netflix slowly are migrating from user-generated videos to professional “channels,” and as Netflix shifts more in the direction of being a source for original programming, so too some of the networks will slowly start to migrate to Internet direct forms of distribution.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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