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Comcast Ready to Mine for VoD Gold

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

NEW YORK -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is pumping out 400 million video-on-demand (VoD) streams per month, and the bulk of them are TV shows, so it's high time for the MSO to start making some money on the platform.

The goal now is to "monetize that content ... as well or better than how we monetize linear," Comcast Senior VP of Video Services Marcien Jenckes said Wednesday at an event on advanced advertising put on by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

Cable's been trying to do this for a while, but only recently has the technology reached a stage where an MSO can switch ads dynamically within VoD streams and help pay the freight for all that "free" on-demand fare. Jenckes estimates that 70 percent of the MSO's VoD consumption falls into that category, with television shows being the most popular "by far."

Jenckes insists that this part of the cable advertising business is now ready to scale. Comcast has rolled out dynamic VoD ad insertion in most markets. The only holdouts are Western Pennsylvania and Denver, but they'll be added in a couple of months when they are hooked into Comcast's content delivery network, Jenckes said. (See Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight .)

Comcast's platform currently allows for ads to be inserted at the start and end of VoD programs; the MSO is in the process of adding mid-roll capabilities.

Comcast's commitment in this area isn't a huge surprise. It's becoming a priority for the entire cable industry. Canoe Ventures LLC , the cross-MSO joint venture, recently announced it is laying off most of its people, closing its New York office, and shutting down its interactive ad product in favor of a dynamic VoD advertising strategy. (See Cable's Canoe Sinks Interactive Ad Business .)

Although Canoe is getting out of interactive advertising, it's not game-over for the cable industry at large. Much is underway at the local level. Comcast Spotlight , the MSO's local advertising arm, has conducted more than 1,700 interactive campaigns that have delivered more than 4.5 billion impressions, Jenckes said.

And this work isn't limited to VoD content delivered to the set-top. Comcast is also inserting ads into the TV Everywhere content it sends over-the-top to devices such as the iPad and, soon, the Xbox 360 gaming console.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:40:54 PM
re: Comcast Ready to Mine for VoD Gold

One player in this space told me he figured dynamic ad insertion could be in front 30-40 million households industry-wide by year end. Maybe then Canoe can broker deals with national advertisers? Or having left Madison Ave, is that still part of what their plan?

User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:40:52 PM
re: Comcast Ready to Mine for VoD Gold

If DAI is so fantastic, why has it taken the industry years to get it off the ground? Cable programmers wanted to implement VOD advertising years ago. 

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:40:50 PM
re: Comcast Ready to Mine for VoD Gold

Good question. I'd heard in 2010 that it had taken that long for advertising to get onto the 'top 5' list of things for MSOs to do. Why so long? Slow-moving MSOs, an ad culture averse to change and VOD views that hadn't yet scaled, I'm guessing. If VOD makes it into the next round of upfront ad buying, that would be a sign that the opportunity cost of ignoring VOD has become too high. But the idea that Netflix could get onto set-top boxes, that Jeff is reporting on elsewhere, could be yet another reason/excuse to hesitate.

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