Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Starz Joins Comcast’s “Web TV You’ll Pay to See” Lineup

fc_pr_video_stepbrothers_bLiberty Media’s Starz Entertainment has signed on to Comcast’s “On Demand Online” program, which is the first test of the cable industry’s “authentication” and “entitlement” strategy. Or, as I like to call it, “Web TV You’ll Pay to See.”

Starz, which has the cable and Web rights to much of the Disney catalog, among other assets, says it will make some of those films, including “Wall-E” and “High School Musical 3,” available for Comcast’s (CMCSA) test, which is supposed to launch this month. Also available: TV series like “Crash” and non-Disney movies like Sony’s “Step Brothers.”

The idea is to protect cable subscription revenue by giving pay TV customers–but only pay TV customers–Web access to all the shows they get on TV and hope this keeps them from canceling their subscriptions. Time Warner (TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes, who has been pushing a parallel effort he calls “TV Everywhere,” signed onto Comcast’s effort last month and offered up a handful of TV shows from his TBS and TNT networks; Comcast also has roped in Scripps, Rainbow and A&E.

I’m told Comcast will have a few more partners before it launches the trial, but the emphasis here is on “trial”: The cable guys appear confident they can handle the technical aspects of the program, but they’ve never tried anything like it before, so this is really a test to see if they can pull it off. And if that works, the real work will be the negotiations between cable programmers and cable providers over who gets what, when.