Comcast and Verizon: Sniffing around user-generated video
On Monday, Comcast launched a trial version of ziddio.com, a Web site that uses contests to attract homegrown videos, with the best then available for Comcast's video-on-demand TV service. Verizon, meantime, is close to a deal with YouTube, according to people familiar with the matter. If it happens, Verizon TV subscribers are likely to be able to watch the top YouTube videos of the day for a fee.
Such moves illustrate the new battleground that's emerging as phone and cable companies seek to woo households with attractive packages of TV, phone and high-speed Internet offerings. Because cable and phone companies provide roughly the same popular TV channels, including ESPN and MTV, they're eager to distinguish themselves through the variety of content they offer on demand. Right now, so-called user generated content is what's hot. "We're all experimenting," says Sam Schwartz, an executive vice president of Comcast Interactive Media.
At the same time, both cable and phone companies are trying to stay ahead of efforts by a wide range of technology companies -- including TiVo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. -- to route Web videos, TV programs and movies directly to television. In the future, it's likely they'll give consumers the ability to access individually produced videos from a number of different sites.
Ziddio is nicely-designed, but there ain't much there yet.