Cable’s embrace of VOD has paid competitive benefits but still falls far short of its full potential, said Comcast COO Stephen Burke. "We’re using VOD in a very limited way," Burke said during one Cable Show panel. He called upon content providers to exhibit more "creativity" in how they approach VOD deals to clear the way for new innovations such as VOD-based electronic sell-through. Cablevision COO Thomas Rutledge agreed that VOD is currently "underutilized" but said it eventually will trump the Internet as an efficient conduit to consumers. "We can do things like billing and shipping," he said. "That’s a tremendous market power." Universal Television Group pres/COO Jeff Gaspin said much hinges on creating win-win deals that benefit content owners while improving VOD platforms. "We have to create a situation in which the economics work," he said. Time Warner Cable COO Landel Hobbs noted that the MSO’s Start Over and Look Back services actually disable the fast-forward feature in an effort to allay content owners’ concerns about ad skipping. Indeed, Discovery pres/CEO David Zaslav said Start Over/Look Back "really hits that sweet spot of satisfying content owners" but lamented that such services aren’t more widely available to consumers. Burke seemed confident that both sides will work much out in the next few years. "In the next 5 years, people will be surprised looking back on the platform how far we have come from where it is today," he said.

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