- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 14, 2006

CBS on demand

Comcast’s On Demand service is deepening its ties with CBS to offer Tiffany network shows when the viewer wants them for no charge, the Associated Press reports.

Comcast Corp., CBS Corp. and General Motors Corp. are testing the new concept with a pair of “Survivor” episodes.

Starting today, cable viewers in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Detroit will be able to watch “Survivor Finale” and “Survivor Reunion” at no charge because GM will be the sole sponsor. The shows will appear on video on demand a day after they air over broadcast TV, and run until Aug. 31.

There will be commercials at the start, middle and end of the shows, but each can be fast-forwarded.

The shows will appear in markets where CBS owns and operates TV stations, since affiliates take a dim view of the network providing shows through other outlets in their areas.

Video on demand lets digital subscribers watch archived shows and movies at any time.

The announcement extends Comcast’s relationship with New York-based CBS. Earlier this year, the network offered prime-time shows such as “Amazing Race” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” through Comcast’s video-on-demand network for 99 cents each.

While the test market is small, the stakes are high: Comcast and other cable operators are banking on video-on-demand services to keep subscribers from jumping to satellite TV, which doesn’t have this capability. But VOD’s problem is that newer shows cost money and free shows are older.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is the nation’s largest cable operator

‘Dead’ end?

The third season of HBO’s gritty Western “Deadwood” hasn’t even begun, but it looks like the show’s days are numbered.

HBO has opted not to pick up the options of the actors on the show, releasing them to pursue other projects, Reuters news agency reports.

That means if the network wanted to pursue a fourth season, the actors might not be around to shoot it.

“Deadwood” creator David Milch is shifting his attention to “John From Cincinnati” a one-hour project he is writing for HBO. The surfing-themed drama has been ordered as a pilot, subject to finalizing deals on the financial and talent sides.

HBO sources said there are conversations about the future of “Deadwood” beyond the third season, which premieres June 11. But with the actors moving on to other commitments, it is highly unlikely that all the main cast members would be available to do additional episodes in the future.

The ultra-dense drama drew initial headlines for its spicy language, but a coterie of critics soon declared the series as a worthy update on the Wild West mythology.

• Complied from Web and news service reports by Christian Toto.

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