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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 05, 2012

TV Everywhere Doesn't Meet All Key Consumer Preferences

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Most consumers, if asked, would likely say they want the ability to watch professionally-produced video, such as that provided by cable, telco and satellite video providers on a wide variety of devices including TVs, tablets, PCs and smartphones.  However,many consumers probably would say they believe video subscription fees are too high and that they would prefer the ability to buy programs or channels on a one-by-one basis. 

Comcast’s new 10-year deal with The Walt Disney (News - Alert) Company ensures that Comcast has right to show Disney’s top quality sports, news and entertainment content to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers on televisions, online, on tablets and handheld devices, which will potentially satisfy some consumer desires. 

For the first time ever, Comcast’s (News - Alert) Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch ESPN, ABC or Disney shows live or on demand and across multiple screens, Comcast said in a press release. 

The networks and services covered by the agreement include: ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ESPN (News - Alert), ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN 3D, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN3; retransmission consent for seven ABC-owned broadcast television stations (WABC-TV New York, WLS-TV Chicago, WPVI-TV Philadelphia, KGO-TV San Francisco, KTRK-TV Houston, KTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham, and KFSN-TV Fresno), as well as more than 10 high-definition networks.  Additionally, Comcast will launch Disney Junior, a new 24-hour basic channel for preschool-age children, parents and caregivers.  

No doubt, Comcast will continue to try and tie access on tablets or online to purchase of video subscriptions. While that makes sense for Comcast and Disney, it probably will make less and less sense for many consumers.

And that is probably the bigger strategic problem, as TV networks and studios face a business problem very similar to that faced by large telcos confronting VoIP services. Market demand is changing, but providers make so much money from the legacy services that any transition to newer services has to be managed carefully.

TV networks and studios face a similar problem, namely, how to balance and support the growing online market for shows with support for traditional distribution partners that still  account for the lion's share of revenues.

Video executives are right, at least for the moment, that people want access to the programming they are used to, and will not be satisfied if online choices are too limited. 

For many, the Comcast deal with Disney will provide value. What remains unclear, over the longer term, is whether the expected way Comcast will try and charge for such access remains palatable for many potential customers.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2012, taking place Jan. 31-Feb. 3 2012, in Miami, FL. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

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Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein