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Comcast, Time Warner Cable Enter Online Video Fray

To the chagrin of startups and Web entertainment companies across the country, Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. today announced their entrance into the world of online video. Comcast--the biggest of the them all--is spending millions on new technology and accumulating broadband rights to a wide variety of movies, TV programs, and other video stuff it plans to make available on its Web site. Ultimately, the telecom monster wants people to route all its Web-based content to TV sets, expanding its customers' television options. Comcast would also make its content available to anyone, not just its own high-speed subscribers. However, if net neutrality efforts fail, that kind of service would be among the first to be slowed down or even blocked by competitors. Meanwhile, Time Warner Inc.'s cable division has already started showing Web content on the TV sets of its subscribers. It's already a crowded broadband video market, with startups like YouTube, Brightcove, Veoh, and the biggies--Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL--taking leading positions. As a result, the Journal says, "it's not certain that cable companies can emerge as top players." Their success hinges on the ability to attract content from major media outlets like Disney and News Corp., which might not necessarily want or need to share.

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