The TV Everywhere initiative is alive and well.
Under the terms of the deal, Comcast's 21.4 million cable television subscribers will be able to view CBS shows on demand through Comcast's websites, at no additional cost. If the account holder is also paying for HBO or Cinemax, he or she will be able to catch the premium network shows online, at any time.
The HBO and Cinemax deals aren't really a surprise. Parent company Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) was Comcast's partner in launching TV Everywhere, a movement they hope catches on with broadcast networks and cable channels on the content side and satellite and cable television providers on the delivery end.
Comcast is trying to keep subscribers from bolting. It's also putting pressure on other companies that once threatened to do in old-school television.
- TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) has been a thorn in commercial television's side, as it arms viewers with the ability to devalue ads by flying through the sponsored spots. With digitally delivered on-demand offerings, TiVo -- and even a cable provider's own DVR box -- will be harder sells.
- Folks have been flocking to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) YouTube in droves, but the success of Hulu has proved that even video-sharing buffs gravitate toward professionally produced content. TV everywhere will make it easier to consume cable content, at the expense of the clip-culture mindset.
Comcast's offering isn't a slam dunk, though. It still has to persuade most of its programming providers to hop on the bandwagon. Even CBS is onboard just for the technical trial that will open the service to only a few thousand Comcast subscribers. It's hard to see CBS backing out after the trial is over, but this is a point that needs to be made.
In the end, the cable channels will play nice. If Comcast sheds subscribers, the channels will receive less money from Comcast. They are all on the same page here. Comcast has its heart in the right place. Cable bills are stubbornly high throughout the country, in part because cable content providers such as Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) keep wanting more money every year.
Couch potatoes are having enough. Some subscriber services, such as DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH ) , are losing customers, and even Comcast is susceptible if it doesn't ramp up the value proposition of its costly cable services.
TV everywhere is huge, because the alternative may be TV nowhere.