TW, Comcast Team

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 25, 2009 | Go to article overview

TW, Comcast Team


Byline: Robyn-Denise Yourse, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

TW, Comcast team

Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. are pushing ahead with a plan to make big cable network shows available online to existing cable subscribers shortly after their first airing, the Hollywood Reporter says.

On Wednesday, the two industry titans unveiled a set of guiding principles for what TW has dubbed TV Everywhere and announced a national technical trial of what Comcast will name its On Demand Online service, starting with 5,000 customers in July.

The nonexclusive service is free of additional charges to Comcast subscribers and will start with such TW programming as TNT's The Closer and TBS' Tyler Perry's House of Payne, with other networks expected to be added later. TW Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes said the idea is to allow consumers to watch their favorite shows on any screen - be it a TV or device screen - on demand, with networks' and distributors' Web sites being possible access locations.

Mr. Bewkes and Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian L. Roberts signaled that they don't plan to provide an option for consumers to subscribe to the Web offering only without also having a cable video contract. We don't know the answer to that [and will let things unfold], Mr. Bewkes told THR.

While some have called the initiative a defensive move, Mr. Bewkes said it will stack up well compared to other digital video services. This is offensive, potentially increasing ratings and ad sales and giving consumers more options, he said.

It's like iTunes, but better, because you get it for free as long as you are a cable subscriber. He also said Hulu and YouTube would be dwarfed by the online views if TV's entire multichannel universe adopts TV Everywhere. In that case, this will be by far the highest video watched in the U.S. - past Hulu and YouTube, Mr. Bewkes said. This will be the biggest story in VOD and Internet video.

Green lights for 8

MTV has given the go-ahead to eight projects for series development with executive producers including Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, Mark Burnett and Seth Meyers, while also signing teen star Emma Roberts to a first-look production deal for TV.

According to Variety, Mr. Foxx, whose on-screen career launched with the 1990s Fox hit In Living Color, hopes to deliver a 21st-century descendant of that program with an untitled sketch-comedy show, working with partners Marcus King and Jaime Rucker King as well as executive producers Fax Bahr and Adam Small.

The cable network also commissioned a pilot for an untitled reality show featuring Audrina Patridge The Hills ) of which Survivor guru Mr. Burnett is executive producer. Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live head writer Mr. Meyers and colleague Mike Shoemaker are shepherding The Awesomes, an animated half-hour about a bumbling superhero team. Lorne Michaels is executive producer through Broadway Video.

MTV also moved into development a project from co-creators David Katzenberg (son of Jeffrey) and Seth Grahame-Smith titled Hard Times. The coming-of-age offering essentially spins HBO's Hung story line by giving a certain anatomical gift to an unpopular 15-year-old. David Katzenberg directed the pilot. …

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