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Video services

MystroTV Revisited

Washington, DC -- Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) president and COO Jeff Bewkes has rekindled the idea of offering "everything" on-demand, a concept that looked good on paper when the company's MystroTV project took it on in the earlier part of the decade.

Bewkes, speaking here Monday at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) Summit, said the industry needs to move toward a model in which all network shows are offered on-demand, with most of them delivered on a free, ad-supported basis. And those ads, he said, need to be relevant and targeted, to prevent, or at least reduce, the likelihood that consumers will skip them.

Technology, he added, is not the gating factor. "The thing's built. All you have to do is turn it on," Bewkes said, adding that such a service would keep cable well positioned against satellite- and telco-delivered video service providers.

He acknowledged, however, that the big sticking point -- obtaining those rights from programmers and content providers -- remain true today as much as they were back when the company was first noodling the concept of offering everything on TV in the VOD format.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), which eventually assumed command of the original Mystro project, has gotten around part of the problem with Start Over, a service that allows users to restart select shows (i.e., those that the operator has negotiated rights for) that are already in progress. It's not the end game that puts everything on the programming grid on-demand, but it's been a starting point that's proved popular with Time Warner Cable customers.

"Look Back," a service that the MSO is developing, represents the next step in this evolution by expanding the window in which a program recorded on the network is available for playback. Last we heard, this window would be within the day it originally aired so that the ads in that program remain relevant and fresh, though new digital ad insertion technologies could help to expand that time window even further.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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