Video services

Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

Word of a super-pricey video-on-demand (VoD) test kicks off the T.G.I.F. edition of the cable news roundup.

  • Universal Pictures and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) plan to sell Tower Heist, starring Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller, via cable VoD for US$60 almost three weeks after it debuts in theaters. DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) has been offering some movies while they're still in theaters for $30, but company CEO recently acknowledged that take rates have been dreadful.

  • Speaking of VoD, more movie releases in the DVD window will help the on-demand category reach $2 billion in sales this year, a 10 percent jump over 2010's tally, 20th Century Fox SVP Aubrey Freeborn predicted at the CTAM confab in New York.

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear and consolidate challenges to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's new network neutrality rules. It's the same court that found that the FCC had overstepped its authority when it tried to sanction Comcast for throttling peer-to-peer applications. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is appealing the new rules on similar grounds. (See Verizon Appeals Net Neutrality Rules (Again) and Net Neutrality Ruling: FCC Loses, Comcast Wins.)

  • YouTube Inc. has launched a free movie service in the U.K., starting off with a library of older action, horror, Bollywood and comedy titles.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:51:42 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

    What are they thinking? It'll be on Amazon for $3.50 on DVD in just a few weeks. Or at the theater now for $10.

    I hate going to movies these days, too, but who wouldn't get off their ass to save $50?


    DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:51:40 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

    It is a moron detector. For the price of nearly 4 Netflix subscriptions, you too can own a full copy of what will likely be a box office flop that no one will remember in 15 minutes.


    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:40 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick


    Hey - the whole VoD pricing model is what is under pressure from Netflix.  Let them see if this works.  I personally think it is a great moron detector and we should probably remove the right to vote from anybody who buys it.

    But then I am a jerk.




    AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:51:39 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

    Isn't this the home neighorhood theatre idea? A couple with a big show-off screen and surround sound invites another couple over...wait a minute, this is Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller. So, a single guy with a big show-off screen etc. invites three buds over. Beer, messy pizza, loud laughter. For upper income earners, I could see this working.

    jdbower 12/5/2012 | 4:51:39 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

    What is this "own" word you keep using, I'm guessing you're just renting it.

    Granted, $60 is probably pretty similar to what you'd spend on a date night (two tickets, popcorn, soda, travel costs, making bail for murdering the guy next to you because he wouldn't shut up, etc.).  Make it a family movie with a handful of kids and you start saving money, but you lose out on the theater experience and I'd rather just wait for NetFlix/Amazon to carry it.  Then again, this is from someone who hasn't voluntarily set foot in a theater in ages so take it for what it's worth.

    Given the less than stellar take rate at half the price I'm not sure who they're trying to attract.

    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:51:38 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick


    I would really love to see how much non-porn versus porn VoD there is.



    ^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:51:38 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

    Considering that 60$ will pay for food for 3+ days for me and my girls, not sure who Comcast expects to buy this service.

    I suppose the 1%'ers.

    I am just a simple 99%er.

    however, one observation, I don't think thier take rates would be any different if they charged double this price.  make it even MORE exclusive.. maybe that will give it some additional appeal to those who demand the very best and most expensive.


    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:51:36 PM
    re: Comcast, Universal to Test $60 VoD Flick

    This price seems artificially high to ensure that there won't be much of a take-rate... almost like they want to prove to the studios that VoD is plenty secure for this type of distribution and keep demand low so the theater owners don't freak out.  Then when everyone feels comfortably with this, you lower the price a bit to make it a tad more attractive to a larger number of consumers.

    But looks like some theater owners are already flipping out over this.  Cinemark is reportedly threatening to boycott Tower Heist due to this little experiment. JB

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