Local content, while not necessarily as popular as the latest movies or television shows from Disney or Viacom, is nevertheless an important ingredient in cable success. It's no wonder, then, that Comcast is looking to expand its packaging and distribution of programming from a particular community. In a recent press release, the cable company outlined the development of a Local Video On Demand team that would serve more than 5 million customers. The team's primary focus would be cultivating content such as parades and high-school sporting events. The goal is to have somewhere around 20,000 shows in a region -- an increase of more than 200% -- in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.
Comcast's "Get Local" feature, part of the menu of On Demand offerings, puts the spotlight on a community and its denizens. Investing in initiatives that ensure the spotlight remains on local people is smart. Sure, talk to a lot of people about programming produced in their city and, more than likely, a few eyes will be rolled in your direction -- putting events down the street on a cable channel can sometimes feel corny.
But I believe there is a net benefit in local programming. I might be a little biased, though; I've been involved in local cable-access programming myself. But consider how multimedia applications all center on customization -- website portals such as Time Warner's
Granted, Local Video On Demand is only valuable to a restricted geographical area, but viewers can feel a certain connectivity by watching shows that feature familiar people and events. And keep in mind that this is a simple, effective way for Comcast to foster goodwill in the cities where it operates; it's a public service, one which municipalities have come to expect of cable companies.
Comcast is a major competitive force in the cable industry, going up against the likes of Cablevision
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Disney. As of this writing, he was ranked No. 15,084 out of more than 60,000 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.