US Cable Companies Move Online

23 February 2009

NEW YORK: Time Warner Cable and Comcast, the US cable companies, are set to establish a subscription-based website offering access to shows from their networks, and have held talks with Viacom, NBC and Time Warner about a potential tie-up, says the Wall Street Journal.

While revenues in the pay-TV sector appear likely to exhibit greater stability than broadcasters dependent on advertising, online is the only US media forecast by WARC to enjoy meaningful growth this year.

The cable networks' new service will make a large amount of previously cable-only content accessible online for the first time, and will probably be offered as an additional option to full cable subscriptions.

While it would have to compete with free services such as Hulu – owned by NBC Universal and News Corp – a paid-for model would protect the estimated $22.5 billion in subscription fees these networks receive from cable, satellite and telecoms firms.

In the UK, Microsoft is also said to be in talks with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 about the possibility of resuscitating Project Kangaroo, the proposed video-on-demand services scuppered by the Competition Commission earlier this month.
Microsoft's UK managing director UK, Ashley Highfield, said it is currently "in conversation with broadcasters and content providers to see what Microsoft could do by partnering in this area."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/Brand Republic; additional content by WARC staff