Despite bandwidth concerns over streaming TV on the Web, Comcast has committed major resources to building out an online video platform. Why? Call it an insurance policy. Convergence is coming and Comcast (sensibly) isn’t sitting back while other players capitalize on the trend.
What’s interesting is that I’d speculate the online video push isn’t really important to Comcast today. Most people are still watching TV on the TV, and in other situations Comcast is actually in the position of discouraging Web video because of bandwidth constraints. Building the online video platform is about what’s going to be important tomorrow. Not that everyone is going to be watching TV on their laptops, but Web and TV will become intertwined one way or another. While that’s happening, Comcast is hedging its bets by developing back-end Web systems and securing new content distribution rights.
Screenplays magazine recently interviewed thePlatform’s CEO Ian Blaine (thePlatform was acquired by Comcast last year) and Blaine was highly enthusiastic about integrating video across Comcast’s different platforms with shared systems for video search, advertising and general content management. (Free registration to read the article) Shared resources sounds good, but in the meantime Comcast is essentially footing the bill (in money and bandwidth) to make both distribution systems work. Which may be why Comcast’s beta site Fancast is still limited – lots of short clips and trailers, but not much, if any, long-form video. A good stake in the ground, but probably just a preview of what’s to come.
Side note- My favorite clip on Fancast at the moment is a behind-the-scenes snippet from the movie Hot Fuzz.