LAS VEGAS - When the fourth Spider-Man movie arrives, you may be able to watch it on your television at the same time it debuts in movie theaters, Comcast Corp. president Stephen Burke said yesterday.
A simultaneous release to movie theaters and cable providers would have to be arranged so it would not hurt theaters financially, he said.
For example, cable companies could charge $30 to $60 to consumers wanting to watch a new movie in their homes, or make it available only to the first one million subscribers to high-definition television.
"You would have to have some sort of check and balance so that it does not do damage to the box office," Burke told people attending the National Cable and Telecommunications Association convention here.
Burke described the Spider-Man scenario as part of a broader shift that would let consumers watch television shows, movies and other content anywhere, at any time. He said he would not be surprised if every television show were soon available on-demand, instead of only at a set time and date. Comcast already has agreements that allow its digital-cable subscribers to watch popular CBS and NBC shows on demand and expects to make ABC shows available soon.
"I also think on-demand is only in the third or fourth inning in terms of what it is and what it can be," he said.
Burke also tried to dispel fears that a new business model would make cable obsolete. Phone companies, considered a huge threat just a year ago when they got into the television business, so far have grabbed only a small percentage of viewers. Meanwhile, cable companies have overtaken phone companies as providers of high-speed Internet lines.
About half of Comcast's new high-speed Internet customers previously used DSL, a phone-company Internet connection, Burke said. Even though the price of DSL has dropped dramatically in recent years, and is far below the price of cable high-speed Internet, customers migrate to cable because the product is faster, he said.
Some phone companies are trying to catch up by installing fiber-optic connections, but experts expect that process to take a long time.