Fancast Jeff Bewkes is going to love this one.

By
the end of this year, Comcast will launch a new service via its Fancast
website that makes all of its cable content available online on stream.
Just one catch: You have to be a subscriber.

Karen Gilford, senior VP of interactive for the cable provider, told PC World
every cable subscriber will, for no additional charge (for now at
least) get a login and password to watch programs on Fancast. Most
notably, they won't just be cable networks that already stream on their
own website or on Hulu, like Comedy Central and TNT. It looks like it
will include some that don't — even pay channels like HBO. As PC World
notes, "[W]ith its long-standing relationships with virtually all major
video content producers (the networks, HBO, CNN, etc.) [Comcast] is in
a unique relationship to provide a single omnibus video site that has a
broad range of content and a consistent way of viewing it all. Those
relationships might allow Fancast to feature a lot of content that
other online video sites don't have."

The greatest fear of
television executives (besides greenlighting the next "Do Not Disturb")
is that more of us will follow the small but growing number of young
people who cancel their cable/satellite subscriptions and get all their
TV via the Internet, either on a PC or by using one of a number of
devices that put the Web on a TV. With no cable carriage fees and a
fraction of the ad revenue they get on-air, their business models would
be destroyed.

But if you have still subscribe the old-fashioned
way (or with a new-fashioned Internet plan) to get the good stuff,
executives would be fine with it. Then we're just transferring the old
business model onto new technology. Quick and easy. No pain. That's why
Bewkes recently said a model like Comcast's is necessary.

A
senior television executive recently told me in an interview that he
feels forces (like Bewkes) pushing against online TV and he could
foresee a day when the only free stuff online is promotional clips and
library content. If Comcast's technology works and if consumers take to
it, you've got to wonder whether a lot of television executives won't
be pushing to make that day come faster.

Or will they have to accept that the only way to compete with free piracy is with free, but ad-supported, streaming?

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