CEO Brian Roberts Says VOD Model Targets Like Search King

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NEW YORK ( -- Why should advertisers want to talk to Comcast? For the same reasons they talk to Google, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told a packed auditorium at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit in New York today.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

Mr. Roberts extolled the virtues of the video-on-demand platform his company has built out. In 2004, Comcast had 1.4 billion VOD orders from the 8.5 million subscribers that have on-demand programming.

“We can work the TV model into that targeted, just-what-people-want world,” he said. “For an advertiser? Hello ... if you’re an advertiser you want to be talking to us.”

Niche-targeted VOD
Mr. Roberts compared the value of Comcast’s niche-targeted VOD offerings to that of Google -- giving people, after a targeted search, exactly what they want.

“That’s why Google and other companies have called us and said they want to work together,” he said.

Mr. Roberts also addressed his company’s lagging stock price, which is down 20% from its 12-month high. He said Comcast sold 2.5 million new products, including digital cable, voice services and high-speed data, but only lost 100,000 basic subscribers.

“I have set a personal goal that we worry less about the stock,” he said. “You have to shut it out of your life and try to run the company with a sense of enthusiasm.”

He didn’t comment on whether OLN was in the market for the Major League Baseball package still up for grabs, but called the National Football League Thursday-Sunday package that the network had sought a “unique one-off” that didn’t work out. (Those games will appear on the league-owned NFL Network.)

Sony MGM partnership
He also sidestepped a question as to what kind of cable channels Comcast is building out through its partnership with Sony MGM. (In 2005 Comcast was part of a consortium of investors that joined Sony in its acquisition of the once-fabled movie studio.)

“We haven’t announced it. ... We’re trying to figure out how to best exploit the Sony MGM relationship,” he said. So far the relationship has manifested itself in a deep movies-on-demand offering using Sony MGM’s library of films.

He estimated the company will increase the number of VOD-enabled homes thanks to the introduction of a low-cost box that will give the 60% of analog customers on-demand access.

“We’ll take on-demand benefits from [just less than] 9 million customers to all 25 million customers [pending the Adelphia merger] with most of it at no cost,” he said. The Federal Trade Commission last week gave Comcast and Time Warner Gave the go-ahead to begin consolidating their operations in key markets following the joint buyout of Adelphia by the two cable giants.

Comcast also said today it is getting set to conduct a trial in the next month of Nielsen's On Demand reporting service that measures video on demand usage.

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