Cable providers Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) might be late to the Internet video party, but that doesn’t mean they are going to let us enjoy content for free that they pay for. Oh no, the TV Everywhere Model is designed to give Comcast and Time Warner paying subscribers access to content and block-out everyone else. And this system might find its way into Hulu.
You can’t blame the cable operators for their plans. They have to pay good money for access to cable stations. Then they, of course, pass along the cost to subs via a monthly bill. The thought is that those people that pay for the content should be able to watch all of it on both their TVs and computers.
Of course the other side is that if you don’t pay for those services, then you’ll be shut out. This authentication system will be used initially on sites like Comcast’s video site, Fancast, but there is always the possibility that it could eventually make its way on to Hulu.
A lot of Hulu’s content comes from the major networks ABC, NBC, and Fox. (CBS doesn’t have any content on Hulu) This is not the programming that Comcast and Time Warner are bitching about. They are concerned about the cable channel’s programming like Comedy Central, FX, Sci-Fi and others. TV Everywhere tackles this problem by placing content from similar, and even more, stations behind the closed walls of an authentication system at Fancast.com.
Comcast’s own video site, Fancast.com, is similar to Hulu in many ways. It offers a lot of the same programming and a similar, albeit not as nice, look. This is because it actually uses a lot of content from Hulu, but is going to be the launch pad for TV Everywhere.
The trial will include 5,000 Comcast subscribes starting sometime this summer. The test will focus primarily on this so-called authentication technology that’s designed to keep the freeloaders out. Not that many people will really care that much as the only premium content that Fancast is going to feature initially is coming from TBS and TNT. The plan is to eventually give access to even more premium content including movies for no additional cost to current Comcast subscribers.
The average consumer is probably content with Hulu’s offering. Many people have left cable companies entirely and supplement their OTA TV with Hulu. It’s great that Comcast wants to offer its customers more Internet video, but I don’t see how it will generate revenue for Comcast and Time Warner unless its adapted by sites like Hulu, forcing people back to the cable companies for their content.