Comcast, DirecTV Take VOD Primetime

Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” lament is about to sound
even more dated after cable and satellite companies announced separate
deals to offer primetime shows at 99 cents per episode.

Comcast said it will make four CBS
shows available via video-on-demand .

Beginning in January, Comcast’s digital cable subscribers will be able to
watch “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “NCIS,” “Survivor” and “The Amazing
Race” any time they want up to 24 hours.

“We’re offering hit programming that is extremely well-suited for this new
medium and we’re confident the lure of watching these shows at one’s own
convenience will make this feature wildly popular.” Leslie Moonves, CBS
Chairman, said in a statement.

Moonves isn’t the only one.

NBC Universal announced a similar deal with DirecTV to
deliver hit shows “SVU,” “Law & Order:CI,” “The Office,” “Monk” and
“Surface.” The shows will be delivered commercial-free through DirecTV
pay-per-view and the DirecTV DVR for one week.

“The way people are consuming content is changing . . . It’s a huge sea
change,” David Zaslav, president of NBC Universal Cable, said in a

Some industry watchers agree that the shift is significant.

“Digital cable and on-demand usage will surge. And the TV schedule will soon
be as irrelevant as last night’s news,” Josh Bernoff and Jim Nail, analysts
at Forrester Research, wrote in a report today.

The analysts also make two other predictions: that Comcast will begin
offering ad-supported programs within 12 months at no cost to consumers;
and the schedule that has dominated programming plans for decades will become

The CBS and NBC pacts come a month after Apple announced a landmark deal with ABC to
distribute six programs, including “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives.”

The hour-long shows will be available for $1.99 each. All episodes from the
past and current season are available. New shows can be purchased the day
after broadcast.

It may be time for Bruce to head back into the studio.

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