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Comcast Maximizes VOD

This week, Comcast will add prime-time television programs from ABC and Fox to its video-on-demand service, making it the first pay television provider to offer current programs from all four major networks. The deal depicts how viewers no longer stick to the traditional prime-time TV schedules and often utilize services, such as Hulu and Netflix, or digital video recorders. Comcast's beefed up VOD allows it to stay with the shift in consumer trends.

Los Angeles Times reported that On its Xfinitiy TV On-Demand service, Comcast will offer episodes from "Castle," "Glee," "The Voice," and more to its almost 20 million subscribers. Beginning Thursday, the shows will be available the day after their original broadcast and will be fast-forward disabled, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Despite efforts like Comcast's new TV deal, Wall Street fears that online video alternatives to pay TV services could encourage consumers to stop subscribing to the latter. Comcast's solution to that problem also involves its VOD service.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Comcast is speaking with Hollywood studios about airing their films before the traditional 90-day window, using a six to eight week buffer period. DirecTV made big waves last week when it launched its VOD service and made available "Just Go With It" 69 days after its theatrical premiere. Comcast does not know when it will begin such a service or how much it will charge for films. Theater companies, such as Regency Theaters, have threatened to boycott movies that will be released on-demand fewer than 90 days after their theatrical debuts. Though there is heavy debate regarding the shortening of the theatrical window, VOD may not have as much of an effect as anticipated, according to The Wrap. The hard figures on streaming and VOD are not released publicly, as opposed to box office results and DVD rankings, so the success or failure of these endeavors may go unnoticed by the public.

This does not mean that there will not be a VOD top ten chart in the future. TV networks now incorporate DVR figures when looking at a show's ratings. For example, Fox recently renewed television show "Fringe" despite its low ratings because it had a devoted fan base, critical acclaim, and good DVR numbers. Indeed, movies are not like TV shows, so if a film does well on possible VOD chart, it's still already completed. The cast and crew are onto other projects. Good VOD figures, however, might lead a studio to create a sequel or remake, which would employ future entertainment professionals.

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