• Comcast Adds CBS and 17 More Cable Nets to On Demand Online Trial

    Another day, another flurry of announcements from Comcast with news of more networks participating in its On Demand Online technical trial. Newly on board are CBS (also the first broadcast network to participate) and 17 more cable networks such as A&E, AMC, BBC America, Food Network, History Channel, Sundance and others. Together with those already announced, there are now over 20 networks in the trial.

    The cable networks' interest isn't surprising. I've been saying for a while that On Demand Online will be a real boon to them, providing a secure, scalable on-ramp to online distribution, new ad impressions and most important, significant enhanced value to their viewers. Still, despite all of Comcast's progress, most of the big cable network groups (e.g. NBCU, Fox, Disney, Viacom, Discovery) have not yet publicly signed on. I think that's just a matter of time.

    There's no question Comcast is building real industry momentum for On Demand Online. But given the trial hasn't even begun yet, all of these announcements are really raising the visibility of the trial - and of course the pressure to make sure its "authentication" processes work as intended. No doubt each of these announcements is creating a lot of sweaty palms among Comcast's technical staff - the people who are responsible for proving authentication works. With all the PR buildup, if for some reason all does not go according to plan, Comcast will have lots of people looking for answers.

    From my perspective though, I'd like to see Comcast tamp down the PR machine for now and focus on executing the trial itself. The point has now been amply made that the cable network community wants to play ball with On Demand Online. Comcast needs to make the trial a resounding success and then fill in details about how the rollout will proceed.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.