Comcast's online experiment includes 23 networks

Since announcing the inception of TV Everywhere last month, Comcast has managed to line up a whopping 23 networks to agree to provide their content online.

It started simply, with an agreement between the cable company and Time Warner (owner of TNT and TBS and, interestingly enough, a cable company as well) to provide shows online, on demand. Original programming was to be accessible on and to customers of the cable company. The idea was to later stream the shows on and

Now? There are 23 networks who've signed up: A&E, AMC, BBC America, CBS, Cinemax, DIY Network, Fine Living Network, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, HBO, HGTV, History, IFC, MGM Impact, Starz, Sundance Channel, TBS, TNT, WE tv, E! Entertainment, The Style Network, G4 and Fearnet. Fearnet is owned by Comcast.

CBS is one of the newcomers, signing on Tuesday. The legacy network already streams content on and, but doesn't work with Hulu, which is co-owned by NBC, Fox and ABC and streams their content.

The service will be rolled out in the coming weeks, testing it first with 5,000 Comcast subscriber households for no extra fee. The shows and movies they'll get to watch online will not be available online - legally - anywhere else.

The pilot project will have ads, but hopes are that by offering the online content to paying cable customers only, they'll be able to make it an affordable model for online television viewing.

Comcast previously announced its "principles" for TV Everywhere:
  • Bring more TV content, more easily to more people across platforms.
  • Video subscribers can watch programming from their favorite TV networks online for no additional charge.
  • Video subscribers can access this content using any broadband connection.
  • Programmers should make their best and highest-rated programming available online.
  • Both networks and video distributors should provide high-quality, consumer-friendly sites for viewing broadband content with easy authentication.
  • A new process should be created to measure ratings for online viewing. The goal should be to extend the current viewer measurement system to include advertiser ratings for TV content viewed on all platforms.
  • TV Everywhere is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite or telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers.
No one's piped up yet about how to start properly measure online viewing. A lot of people will be watching that very closely - not only Nielsen, which has a lot to either gain or lose if a new way of determining ratings is used, and not only the networks, which are trying to figure out exactly how many people are watching what, and when, but also the fans of many shows that have been cut short over recent years and have fought for such changes to the system.