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Comcast CEO: On-Demand Services Set To Take Off

The convergence of broadband Internet access, on-demand technology and digital content is propelling new personalized services for traditional cable TV customers, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Tuesday at the AIIM/On Demand conference.

The swift convergence of broadband Internet access, on-demand technology and digital content is propelling new personalized services for traditional cable television customers and unlocking growth never before seen in that space, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Tuesday at the AIIM/On Demand conference in Philadelphia.

Roberts, who is steering the Philadelphia-based cable and media giant's emerging content and technology strategy, said the result has been the rollout of 35,000 tiVo-like set-top boxes per week, which is driving rapid growth. Within the past several months, Comcast joined a consortium that bought access to the film libraries of MGM, Columbia Pictures and Tri-Star. The company also bought a 51 percent share of TV Guide and is using its online capabilities for viewer personalization on its digital, on-demand set-top devices.

"We have a couple of hundred movies you can watch for free," Roberts said.

In addition, Comcast has rolled out 4,000 cable and network TV programs that can be viewed on demand. The company also has served 8.3 million orders for the NFL's on-demand network and 1 million subscribers to its own on-demand, online dating channel.

"Our goal is to make Bruce Springsteen a liar," Roberts said, referring to the rock star's 1990s song, "57 Channels (And Nothing On)".

Besides boosting its online content offerings, Comcast is fueling its healthy broadband business, Roberts said. The company is combining four of its digital cable channels into one stream to offer 200 megabit-per-second Internet access. Already, about 25 percent of Comcast's high-speed access customers are accessing the technology for downloading movies and music.

"It is not out of the question that the day is coming where, in 45 seconds, you can download a movie," Roberts said. "We are just scratching the surface."

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