Video services

To Infinity & Beyond!

LAS VEGAS -- CES -- Infinity: (1a) The quality of being infinite, (1b) Unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity: boundlessness, (2) An indefinitely great number or amount.

Breaking new ground in hyperbole, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) ramped up its "Project Infinity" video-on-demand (VOD) initiative at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As reported by us this week:

    Under an initiative called "Project Infinity," Comcast plans to offer more than 1,000 high-definition (HD) "choices" by the end of 2008, reflecting a mix of linear content and a broader offering of video-on-demand (VOD) titles. That's up from about 250 HD choices the MSO offers today.

    Looking further ahead, Comcast expects to offer more than 6,000 movies a month, with more than half of those in hi-definition, in 2009. It did not go into a lot of technical detail about how it will make it happen, but did note that Project Infinity will tap Comcast's fiber network and national IP backbone, and serve video from a massive system of library servers at key locations across the country.

An impressive video library, but a tad short of an infinite selection.

Heck, Comcast's offering doesn't even match Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) The DVD movie rental service offers its subscribers access to some 90,000 DVD titles via mail, as well as 6,000 that can viewed on PCs through the Internet.

Heading into CES, Netflix announced a deal with LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) to develop a set-top box solution to bring those Net-delivered videos to the TV, too. That solution could be available in 2008 through Comcast cable modem connections. [Ed. note: No, we didn't forget the new Fancast.com service, another leg of the "Project Infinity" stool. It will push the content needle and (eventually) offer movie downloads. Oh, and Netflix is one of its partners, by the way.]

As Buzz Lightyear would say with Yogi Berra-like aplomb: "To infinity, and beyond!"

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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