Comcast Today: You Must Watch the Commercials

Fast-forwarding will be disabled on new video-on-demand shows.

The downside of Comcast’s new deal (third item) that lets it offer Time Warner shows from TNT, TBS and several other networks as video on demand: You’re going to have to watch more commercials.


Bloomberg Businessweek reports how it works:

Time Warner announced this week that it will start offering complete seasons of some of its shows on Comcast’s Xfinity TV and digital VOD platforms. That will give customers greater access to even more programming, but they’ll also have to watch more advertising, because fast-forwarding will be disabled. And the advertising will feature dynamic ad insertion, so advertisers can be assured their commercials are fresh.

Why is this happening? Because, well, it’s only now that Nielsen is starting to measure ratings for video on demand — it’s been hell getting the service to measure anything but the audience for live airings of TV shows, putting cord-cutter classic shows like Community in perpetual peril — and what can be measured can be monetized: Networks will know how much  they can charge advertisers if they know how many people are watching their shows; that advertisers also need some level of assurance that the ads themselves are also being seen.

Which means: Commercials. That you cannot skip. Digitally, anyway. As Bloomberg Businessweek points out, there are time-honored strategies for avoiding commercials: “You might want to get back in the habit of timing your bathroom trips with the commercial breaks,” the magazine says.

Other Comcastic headlines: 

“AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. told U.S. regulators who vote on open-Internet rules May 15 to reject ‘micromanagement’ that may include setting prices for how companies route Web traffic. If the Federal Communications Commission applies rules written for telephone networks to Web traffic, the agency would be on a ‘slippery slope’ with ‘sweeping authority to regulate all Internet-based companies,’ the companies’ chief executive officers said in a letter today to the FCC. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal last month to let content companies pay for better service in so-called fast lanes sparked a backlash. Wheeler, who is trying to replace rules rejected by a court in January, is seeking votes of two Democratic colleagues who join him in the agency’s majority and have stated concerns with his latest approach. “(Bloomberg)

“AT&T is nearing a $50 billion deal to buy satellite TV provider DirecTV, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. AT&T is the second-largest mobile carrier in the United States, and the purchase, if completed, would give it control of the country’s largest satellite television provider and create a formidable competitor in the TV/Internet space. It also may create an extra legal hurdle for the merger of cable TV giants Comcast and Time Warner, which is currently under review by federal regulators. … What’s still unclear, however, is what the AT&T-DirecTV deal would mean for Comcast-Time Warner’s approval. It presents a complication, those familiar with the talks told WSJ, because regulators would likely have to consider both deals simultaneously, and one would inform the other. ‘If they approve one they have to approve both,’ Kagan says. ‘It’s hard to know [AT&T’s] thinking on this. It could be a way to get their deal on the same wave of regulatory approval, or it could be a way to derail the Comcast merger.’” (Christian Science Monitor)

“Consider this when assessing NBC extending its pact to air the Olympics through 2032.

  • If there were media rights deals for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, an 18-year agreement would have been done before the existence of television.
  • If an entity had signed an 18-year rights deal in 1972, nobody could have imagined the impact of cable in the ’80s and how the Olympics eventually would be showcased on multiple channels throughout the entire day.
  • If a network had decided to invest in an 18-year extension in 1996, could it have predicted that viewers could watch every minute of every event on something called the Internet at the 2014 Games in Sochi?

With that mind, imagine all the possibilities for how viewers will consume NBC’s coverage of the Olympics in 2032.” (