Comcast Cozies Up to PayPal
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and PayPal are exploring ways to let customers pay for products directly via the television and other devices as the operator looks to generate more revenue from its interactive advertising platform.
Comcast EVP and CTO Tony Werner announced the partnership at this week's The TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco, and noted on the company's blog that Comcast sees TV-based commerce as "a natural extension of our advanced advertising products."
He wrote that discussions are at the "very early stages" and did not say when or how Comcast intends to begin supporting PayPal. X1, Comcast's new video platform that will first launch in Boston, has IP capabilities, so it would be a logical candidate for PayPay integration. Comcast already uses the Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), an interactive apps platform that can run on any class of digital cable set-top, to support HSN's "Shop By Remote" product. (See Comcast's X1 Video Platform Lands First in Boston and HSN’s 'T-Commerce' App Gains Traction.)
And Comcast is just part of PayPal's new, ambitious plan for the TV world. Also on Tuesday, PayPal struck a deal with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) that will let viewers buy products being advertised in 30-second spots. TiVo said the capability will be launched this fall and will be available to some of its cable operator partners, including RCN Corp. and Suddenlink Communications .
And expect more of this sort of thing from PayPal. Former Canoe Ventures LLC CTO Arthur Orduña confirmed a Multichannel News report that he has joined PayPal. Orduña told Light Reading Cable via email that he came on board last week as a full-time consultant focused on helping PayPal "develop relationships with MSOs and other TV ecosystem players."
Why this matters
The cable industry has been hyping the idea of letting customers buy products with the click of a remote for many years -- once, the most oft-cited example was enabling TV viewers buy the sweater that Jennifer Aniston was wearing on an episode of Friends. Yes, it's been that long.
The hype certainly appears to have returned, but cable now has an interactive platform to back it up and, apparently, the motivation, as it seeks out new ways to bring in more ad dollars to offset what it's been losing to other sources, such as over-the-top video.
- Cable's Canoe Sinks Interactive Ad Business
- Canoe CTO: 'T-Commerce' Coming in 2011
- Cablevision Eyes T-Commerce Launch in 2010
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable