NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Cable's model is under threat from the web and Madison "Matt" Bond, 47, is at the center of Comcast's bid to protect it. Time Warner may have branded "TV Everywhere," and has been the most vocal in evangelizing it, but the notion of putting ad-supported cable TV on the web and asking users to "authenticate," or prove that they subscribe to cable, satellite or a telco, was invented at Comcast.
"A couple of years ago it became clear to us that delivery systems were going to evolve and that the web wasn't going to just be about short clips," said Mr. Bond, who joined Comcast in 2003. "It was clear consumers wanted to be entertained where they are, and they will seek out entertainment wherever you make it available to them."
Mr. Bond and his team looked at existing content models on the web, including Apple's iTunes and Netflix, and then, well, threw them out.
"It was really clear people liked watching video for free and didn't want to pay for every piece of video," he said. Fortunately, 90%of U.S. households already pay for TV. Adding the ability for subscribers to also access that content on the web could turn the biggest threat to Comcast's model into a competitive advantage if they get it right -- and if consumers buy it.
The fruit of that labor is Comcast's test of the concept, called "On Demand Online." It's in trial this year with 5,000 subscribers around the country on Fancast and Comcast.net, and 23 cable networks are participating. By the end of the year, cable TV should know if its dual revenue model -- advertising and cable subscription fees -- can survive web distribution.
"Matt has been talking to us about this for years," Denise Denson, exec VP-content distribution at MTV Networks and BET Networks, said.
"At the end of the day it's going to be a linear TV negotiator who is able to affect this kind of change. He's sitting in the power seat to make it happen."
"He at least understands programmers' issues and can balance the perspectives of both," Ms. Denson said.