11.17.2006 08:00 AM
Telco and cable platforms embrace home brewed video

On the Internet it’s called “Web 2.0” services, but now “home brewed” video programming, that is, video made by amateurs, is starting to making inroads with television programmers on cable and telco platforms.

Many of these large media companies are attempting to harness the popularity of Web sites like YouTube.com to pay television media. Verizon is said to be in talks with YouTube to bring its content to mobile devices, while Comcast is creating a special Web site and VOD service for user-supplied videos.

Some analysts say the acquisition of user-supplied and other alternative programming is a way for pay operators to offer unique content on their services. They worry that any distinctions between cable and telco will soon begin to blur in the eyes of consumers.

For example, Verizon, whose FIOS fiber optic network is rapidly expanding throughout the northeast, has just announced a deal with Intel to offer on-demand video games on its new TV service. The game outlet uses Intel’s Viiv technology to connect the subscriber’s personal computer to the television.

A deal with YouTube would offer Verizon still another way to differentiate itself from its competitors on the cable side.

On the cable side, last week Comcast launched the public beta version of Ziddio, a viewer-supplied video portal. In current promotions, Comcast is asking users to submit videos for a “Star Wars”-themed contest, and — in a deal with the Style Network— for the messiest house. Viewers are told if their submissions are accepted, they’ll be offered as part of Comcast’s VOD service.

However, there’s considerable skepticism whether such gimmicks will have a meaningful impact on luring new customers to pay services. User-generated video has proven popular so far only with young viewers.Many industry analysts are warning that pay operators risk losing customers if they don’t serve niche audiences.

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