Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TV Everywhere; Not Quite Yet

Comcast's alternative to Hulu is Fancast and with it, the chance to marry online content with cable subscription. I mean why buy the cow if the milk is free. Ideally, that subscription would lead to viewing outside the TV screen, on any other device authorized by your cable provider. Unfortunately, as long as Hulu is around, that authentication doesn't matter. Perhaps that is ultimately why Comcast will buy NBCU ( a founding partner of Hulu), to kill Hulu off. But back to Fancast, its authentication process today is limited to the wired home.

"On Demand Online will move from trial to reality later this year but not as the TV Everywhere wonderland all the hype might lead subscribers to expect: the streaming on demand will be limited to some cable shows and movies, access will be limited to in-home computers—and, at first, access will be possible only through Comcast’s own ISP, barring anyone who does not pay Comcast for video and broadband. But, as promised, the actual service will be free to cable subscribers; access will be through or the company’s video portal Fancast."

Ultimately, a deal will be needed with a wireless carrier to support the authentication process; with Verizon and AT&T doing their own thing, cable may have to do a deal with Sprint to add this piece to their puzzle. Will customers try Fancast or On Demand Online? It certainly depends on the content. If they offer full length shows not available on Hulu,, iTunes, or elsewhere, and can establish themselves as the only place for valuable online content then they may break through the current clutter.

Today though with so much video content available on these aggregators as well as other cable and broadcast websites, finding unique content to own may not be easy for Comcast and On Demand Online. They need to build their authentication process quick and demonstrate to content creators the importance of limiting their content sharing to authenticated sites in order to save the subscription revenue business.

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