Earlier today, media giant Time Warner and cable provider Comcast Corp. announced that they are teaming up for a trial of an "authentication" effort that has variously been called "TV Everywhere" by
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and "OnDemand Online" by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Whatever the companies decide to call it -- they may each use different names -- the goal here is to protect cable
subscription revenues by giving pay TV customers Web access to all the shows they get on TV.
Ahead of this morning's press conference, Peter Kafka was able to drum up a few new details
about the service. The test will start very small, with around 5,000 customers, but Comcast is apparently determined to expand it aggressively, Kafka says, and wants to have it available throughout
its system by the end of the year. It may use Plaxo, which Comcast bought last year, as the authentication system. Time Warner Cable will use a separate authentication offering, which will launch
later in the year.
Thus far, Time Warner is the only programming partner on board, but Kafka says that Hulu may be interested in joining, too. The cable companies may be upset that
Hulu shows cable programs for free while they have to pay for them, but authentication solves that problem in part by putting everyone on a level playing field; only cable subscribers would get access
to cable programming, whether it's on Hulu or anywhere else, Kafka says. He adds that other major media companies like NBC, CBS and Viacom are also considering taking part in some of the trials
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