Discovery Communications is the latest company
joining Comcast's OnDemand Online Trial, according to two executives
familiar with talks.
Details of the move are unclear at this stage, but
the move is a significant one since non-fiction programming giant Discovery has largely
stayed out of the long-form video world, preferring to feed viewer
interest with shorter clips.
Discovery has been somewhat slow to the table. The company's main
concern in making its material widely available online has been the
risk of cannibalizing its existing business (which includes
syndication) and upsetting the cable operators that provide its bread
Discovery has historically been close knit with the cable
MSOs. Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters convention
in April, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said: "We're
waiting to see if an economic model develops."
A Discovery spokeswoman declined to comment. A Comcast spokeswoman did not respond immediately for comment.
Zaslav is yet to make a pact with Hulu, the NBC Universal-News
Corp.-Disney joint venture, which is also working to make TV content
widely available online with advertiser support. Hulu grew out of a
syndicated video venture within NBCU named NBBC, or the National
Broadband Company, which Zaslav helped launch in 2007 as NBCU's
president of cable.
In July, CBS became the first broadcast
network to join the Comcast trial service, which requires users to
authenticate themselves as paying cable subscribers. Time Warner's HBO
and Starz Entertainment are partners in the trial. Other networks
involved include Time Warner's TNT and TBS along with Rainbow Media,
Scripps Networks, A&E Television Networks and BBC America.
expects to launch On Demand Online nationwide in the fourth quarter of
2009, if trials are successful. Viewers in Comcast's footprint will be
able to access the material via Comcast.net or Fancast.