Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, is testing new advertising technology that inserts up-to-date commercials into past episodes of TV shows that are available on demand, a development that could help television networks generate additional revenue.
As people get used to catching up on or binging on older episodes of shows through online services like Netflix and Hulu, cable companies and TV networks are plying viewers with past episodes from current seasons that can be watched on demand through their cable set-top boxes.
The new technology is meant to give TV networks a way to earn ad dollars from earlier episodes. Currently, most advertisers only pay for ads watched live or within three days after a show airs. That could change if Comcast's technology, which it developed in partnership with Nielsen, is widely adopted. (Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.)
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With the new service it is testing, Comcast will take the same commercials that aired live and insert them into a show's older episodes that are watched on demand. TV networks can try to broker deals with advertisers to pay for the additional viewership, which will be measured by Nielsen.