Building on viewers' desires for instant gratification, Comcast and cable network FX recently completed a trial of a new TV binge-viewing feature aimed at driving subscribers straight to Comcast's video-on-demand (VoD) library after watching a live show.
As first reported by USA Today, the experiment allowed viewers to watch the next episode of the series The Bridge immediately after the previous episode finished airing. FX made six installments of the show available on demand. In previous trials, only one episode was available at a time.
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) confirmed to Light Reading that it conducted the FX trial with all video subscribers across its entire footprint. The company has also said that other networks have shown interest in conducting similar tests.
The push by Comcast to expand VoD viewing began in earnest back in 2008, when CEO Brian Roberts announced Project Infinity, a campaign to "bring more content to people across all platforms at home and on the go." Since that time, Comcast has added tens of thousands of video titles to its VoD library and made a concerted effort to use VoD to tempt viewers away from DVR recordings that allow commercial skipping.
At The Cable Show in May, Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager of video services at Comcast, explained that the MSO is even attempting to move away from DVR nomenclature. Instead, it's highlighting the idea that users can access a wide range of content from saved shows to "favorited" shows, and from recommended videos to purchased content. (See Comcast Cloud DVR Storms Down East Coast.)
Despite Comcast's grand VoD ambitions, the company also knows that it has to compete in the DVR marketing wars. Earlier this year, Comcast started promoting a "Super DVR" service that allows users to hook together three X1 set-tops to record and watch up to 15 programs at once. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) also offers a DVR service that supports viewing and recording of 15 shows concurrently. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s Quantum TV service supports up to 12 shows at a time. (See Comcast Trials Its 'Super DVR'.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading