Cox Kills VOD Fast Forward

How would you feel about your video-on-demand service if you discovered the fast-forward function had been disabled? Viewers of the country's third-largest cable system will soon find out when they try in vain to skip ads on the VOD versions of ABC and ESPN.

Yes, Cox has disabled the FF control for those two VOD channels in a deal with Disney, which owns the channels. Fortunately there is a catch. The FF ban will not apply to the DVRs Cox rents to subscribers, for fear that they would buy their own DVRs or switch to another television provider.

The president of the Disney-ABC Television Group defended the move, saying that compulsory ad viewing will enable consumers to access network programming that otherwise wouldn't make it to VOD. "Advertising is critical to the financial health of our business and this agreement marks the first time one of our cable-operator partners is acknowledging that," said Anne Sweeney to the Wall Street Journal.

The test will start in Orange County, California. Affected series will include Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Ugly Betty.

While Cox hasn't yet sabotaged its own DVRs, the technology for doing so does exist.

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