Comcast Oscars VOD X1
Courtesy of Comcast

Cable operator inks ABC pact to bring past Academy Awards memorable moments to VOD service

With Super Bowl 50 now in the rear-view mirror, Comcast is turning its eyes to the next major TV event: the Oscars.

The cable giant is delivering a trove of content from past Academy Awards telecasts through its video-on-demand platform to X1 customers, in hopes of driving up VOD rentals and purchases of Oscar-nominated pics.

Under a pact with ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Comcast is offering 72 “Best of Oscars” moments on VOD. Those include Lupita Nyong’o’s emotional speech after winning best supporting actress in 2014; Martin Scorsese’s best director win in 2007; and Sally Field’s memorable 1985 acceptance speech for best actress.

Comcast’s goal: to generate fan excitement about the Oscars, and ideally spur cable customers to pay to watch this year’s nominees or past winners on VOD.

The MSO offers about 20 movies that have received 2016 Academy Awards nominations for pre-order, rent or own, including “Bridge of Spies,” “The Revenant” (pre-order), “The Martian,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Sicario,” “Room” (pre-order), “Spotlight,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Steve Jobs,” “The Big Short” (pre-order) and “The Hateful Eight” (pre-order).

In addition, Comcast offers every Oscars best picture winner from the past 25 years available to rent or own.

“We’re focused on the overall VOD experience… but I expect if we do this well, we will pick up additional transactions,” said Daniel Spinosa, Comcast’s g.m. of movies, pay-per-view and commerce. “The Oscars is one of the largest TV-viewing events of the year, so it’s a great thing to work with ABC and the Academy on this,” Spinosa added.

No money is changing hands between Comcast and ABC for the “Best of Oscars” content, according to Spinosa, as the network expects the deal to boost awareness for the upcoming telecast.

ABC will broadcast the 88th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 28, and Comcast will run advertising spots in the telecast in local and regional markets where it operates. The cable operator will add highlights of the night’s biggest moments into the Oscars VOD destination on X1 as they occur, including red carpet interviews, winner speeches, musical numbers and skits.

On Monday, Feb. 29, the full Oscars telecast will be available to watch on-demand for Comcast X1 customers through March 2. Most of the historical Oscars video content plus the highlights from the 2016 show will be available on X1 VOD through March 13.

Select Oscars content also will be available on and the Xfinity TV Go apps. That will include ABC’s live webcast of the “Oscars Backstage” show, featuring red carpet coverage and behind-the-scenes interviews. In addition, Comcast will provide the “Oscars Backstage” director’s cut feed to Xfinity TV customers.

The expanded Oscars VOD content is available to Comcast’s X1 subscribers. About 30% of the operator’s 22.3 million video subs had X1 as of the end of 2015.

Comcast also is touting X1’s enhanced voice-search features available with the Oscars VOD content. For example, customers can quote famous lines from award-winning films like “Forrest Gump,” “Titanic” and “The Godfather” to locate the movie in the on-demand menu.

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