There is a lot of innovative technology surrounding me here at the Cable Show, and one of the big topics of the conference is that people want to watch shows on their schedule. That got me thinking about our On Demand service and how it has really changed the way people watch TV in just six years.
On Demand launched in 2003 with a simple, but powerful idea: give viewers the power to watch whatever they wanted, when they wanted to watch it - using nothing more than their remote control. Talk about "appointment television!" We started small with about 200 programs available to a handful of markets and over time grew the infrastructure, made improvements to the service and most importantly, never stopped listening to our customers.
Today, we live in a world where we set our TV schedule according to our lives, not the other way around. Comcast customers have now used On Demand more than 11 billion times - 11 billion times! That’s almost twice as many music downloads sold on the iTunes Store in the six years since it launched (iTunes has 6 billion downloads as of January 2009, and that’s pretty darn good too). We’re proud of that large number (I can’t help but hear Carl Sagan saying "Billions and billions" in my mind whenever I read it) but what’s really important is that people enjoy On Demand. You can’t beat that.
11 billion is a big number, and we have some other statistics that are pretty mind boggling. That’s nearly four times as many Big Macs sold in the same time period, nearly 30 times as many Harry Potter books sold around the world. If you break it down by time spent watching On Demand, Comcast customers view more than 300 million On Demand programs every month which translates to 149 million hours of content.
People are spending so much time watching On Demand because there is such a great selection (and I’m not just saying that because I work for Comcast). At the moment we have more than 10,000 blockbuster movies, network television series, sports, music and kids’ choices a month - including more than 1,000 in HD at any time. What’s not to like?
Six years for the first 11 billion views leads me to wonder how many On Demand views we’ll have six years from now. Something tells me it’ll be a pretty big number.