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Poll: Comcast First Choice for OTT Plunge

Alan Breznick

Despite recent aggressive moves by AT&T, Verizon, and Dish Network to gear up for over-the-top launches, Comcast is still seen as the most likely traditional pay-TV provider to take the full OTT plunge first.

In our latest Light Reading community poll, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) drew the most votes from readers when asked which legacy video provider would be the OTT pioneer in the US, handily beating Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), and Charter Communications Inc. .

Comcast captured 16.3% of the 1,258 votes cast by May 26, followed by Verizon with 10.8% of the tallies, AT&T with 10.5%, and Dish Network with 10.2%.

Notably, Comcast emerged as the most likely pay-TV provider to pursue the OTT route even though AT&T, Verizon, and Dish Network have all made very visible moves in the past few months to prep for OTT launches as early as this summer. Most recently, for instance, AT&T announced a $500 million joint venture with The Chernin Group to "acquire, invest in and launch" online video services later this year, while Dish signed a sweeping content rights pact with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) to fuel the launch of its own planned OTT service this summer. (See AT&T Joins OTT Video Parade and Dish Kindles TV Everywhere Flame.)

In contrast to its rivals, Comcast has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to go OTT across the US right now. Instead, Comcast has focused on rolling out its next-gen X1 IP video service and adding such cloud-based features as network DVR to it. Comcast has also promoted its own quasi-OTT service, Streampix, which is a streaming video service that the MSO bundles with other video services and also sells a la carte just within its regions. (See Comcast Cloud DVR Storms Down East Coast and Comcast Streams CBS Shows OTT.)

Significantly, our poll found that the largest group of readers by far (42.5%) clicked on the final option, which asked "What the hell is over-the-top?" This means one of two things: Either many of you don't really know that over-the-top video means delivering video over the Internet and someone else's broadband architecture; or that you're just having a little fun (which is cool by us).

In either case, OTT video is clearly here to stay. So stay tuned for more news, views, and polls on the subject.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
5/28/2014 | 11:11:14 AM
Odd that I've seen complaints that Comcast's "Netflix killer" has seen a reduction in catalog size, suggesting they're not really pushing it all that hard (or, like Verizon/RedBox, are worried that pushing too hard into that space will cannibalize traditional TV users).  

From a user recently:

"I noticed that Comcast has pulled all of the network shows they offered on the streampix service. There used to be about 60 shows with all past seasons available. Now just The Good Wife and Charmed are the only scripted shows left. All of the NBC and Syfy shows are gone too even though they own the channels.

This was supposed to be their Netflix competitor. They never handled it properly though. They have a huge pay on demand library and they could be offering a monthly subscription to kill Netflix but instead stick with the PPV model. I wonder if they are quietly letting streampix die."
sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/27/2014 | 3:36:45 PM
and then what?

If Comcast really embraces OTT, will it then continue to be the 1000-pound gorilla that it currently is as a cable company? Moreover, would it want to go the OTT route unless it can get the FCC to approve the concept of an Internet "fast lane?"
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/27/2014 | 11:23:36 AM
Content Leverage
Well Comcast does actually own it's own content that it can experiment with.  I guess time will tell...
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