Light Reading

Comcast Seeks VoD Killer App

Mari Silbey
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One of the best things about video-on-demand is the ability to catch up on shows you missed. However, for most television series, the catch-up function only goes so far -- usually about five episodes. To get a season's worth of archives, you have to buy or rent shows online or pick up the DVD box set.

Now, in a move that could transform how TV viewing is measured and ads are billed, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and The Nielsen Co. are hoping to change all that.

In a corporate blog post, Comcast announced that it's working with Nielsen on a new advertising product called On Demand Commercial Ratings (ODCR). The product inserts the entire ad load from the most recent episode in a TV series into any earlier episodes offered in the on-demand catalog. While today programmers only get ratings credit for ads that run in Nielsen's C3 window (i.e. within three days of the initial broadcast), the deal with Nielsen could ultimately extend ratings value much, much further.

And when the ratings problem is solved, programmers will have much greater incentive to offer up full season archives. Just as importantly, the networks will have larger viewing audiences to sell to advertisers, thereby generating more ad revenues.

Comcast says it is testing ODCR with NBC Universal content initially. But Multichannel News reports that trials with ABC Inc. are also underway, and that CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) is interested in the product as well.

While cable is working hard to improve the VoD experience, the industry still has a long way to go to catch up with online VoD options. Recent data suggest that online viewing time has grown as much as 10 times faster than cable VoD viewing time over the last four years. (See Online Video Trumps Cable VoD.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/3/2013 | 4:06:18 PM
Re: I'll pay to skip
A $10 CPM is 1 cent to skip the ad....?
User Rank: Light Beer
12/3/2013 | 12:39:03 PM
I'll pay to skip
Why can't I pay a small price to skip all ads in on-demand?
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/3/2013 | 11:58:16 AM
Re: Ad skipping
Worth remembering though that while the cable and broadcast industry won't admit this (ever), they are technically competing with piracy when VOD isn't competing with ad-free Netflix. Adding more ads, and taking away additional consumer features, isn't a winning strategy when your competition (fair or not) is free or dirt cheap ad-free content delivered entirely without restriction. Heading toward more ads, and less skipping isn't the brightest choice when viewed through that particular lense, even if Comcat customers are getting access to more overall content than before.
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/3/2013 | 11:43:54 AM
Re: Ad skipping

I am a Comcast sub the no ad skipping makes me DVR more things than I used to.  Catch up for me is a Netflix only thing because of this.

By the way, why do people not see Netflix as the prime competitor for VoD?


User Rank: Blogger
12/3/2013 | 11:15:25 AM
Re: Ad skipping
I have FiOS, and fast forwarding is already disabled in most on-demand shows. I DVR as much as possible, but if I were catching up on a series I hadn't seen before, there would be more reason to turn to VoD, ads and all. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/3/2013 | 11:09:31 AM
Ad skipping
It's also worth noting that the new trials Comcast is running with NBC not only include putting the full ad load on older content, but prohibiting users from skipping or fast forwarding through those ads as well. Not sure that particular "feature" is going to be particularly welcome by consumers.
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