Comcast Plans Free “Watchathon” Event To Promote VOD

The No. 1 cable company hopes to draw consumer attention to its broad VOD catalog late this month by offering shows from its broadcast, cable, and premium cable networks for free for a week, Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit told investors at Deutsche Bank’s Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Florida. The company will call the event “Xfinity Watchathon.” Comcast has been eager to promote its VOD library to viewers who like the flexibility they find with services such as Netflix to watch shows spontaneously, without having to pre-program a DVR. Unlike other pay TV providers “we have all five (major broadcast) networks,” Smit says. Still, Comcast wants to gin up network enthusiasm by demonstrating that people watch more ads on VOD — where fast-forwarding usually is disabled — vs home DVRs. Meanwhile, Comcast plans to beef up the marketing effort behind its TV Everywhere streaming service. “I’d probably give us a ‘B’,” for the roll out so far, Smit says. “We have a lot of great content. Now it’s our job to leverage it.” Unlike other pay TV providers including Time Warner Cable and Dish Network, Comcast isn’t threatening to control programming costs by dropping little-watched networks. “Generally speaking, I’m looking at value as opposed to cutting costs on the programming side.”

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