In his talk at Wharton, Brian Roberts made it clear that he believes his company’s future hinges on video-on-demand. That, he argues, is why the Disney bid made sense. On-demand allows customers to choose not only what they want to watch but also when. It also lets them control their viewing via functions such as pause and replay. Satellite TV, cable’s biggest competitor, offers abundant programming but not two-way communication.
For video-on-demand to beat satellite, it has to provide lots of programming, whether it’s Disney cartoons or, as Comcast has begun offering lately, the NFL Network. The NFL channel provides 10- to 15-minute replays of the highlights of all the prior weekend’s football games. Comcast also recently announced a partnership with Sony and MGM to offer their libraries of movies and TV shows via on-demand video.
Comcast has turned to trying to deliver the best services possible through that infrastructure. “We think that with this new platform, we have to reinvent television,” Roberts noted. “Television today is a one-way experience. It seems totally clear to me that the personalization of television is the future. Everybody wants to do what they want, when they want. And we happen to have a platform for that, where our competitor, satellite, doesn’t. So all of our energy is to give our customers, on demand, the ability to get as much content as possible.”
“With on-demand, we have servers with virtually unlimited content. We don’t care what you want to do, we just want you to do it a lot. And you can’t do any of that on satellite or broadcast.”