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For Video-on-Demand, It's Showtime

Editor's Note: Jon D. Markman writes a weekly column for CNBC on MSN Money that is republished here on TheStreet.com.


After four days without electricity in Seattle following a historic windstorm, I feel qualified to reveal the one power-required activity that is essential to modern life.

It's not light; candles did the trick. It's not heat; a wood fire and quilts worked fine. It's not phone service; cell phones with three-day battery life kept us in touch.

No, the one irreplaceable miracle of powered life we truly missed -- even while playing board games by firelight with the kids -- was our digital video recorder. Eighty-four hours without being able to time-shift a single show, are you kidding me? Thankfully, by sheer luck, Lost, 24 and Prison Break were all on winter hiatus.

What this episode of Powerless in Seattle illustrates is how dependent many consumers have become on enjoying filmed entertainment in their homes with souped-up plasma TVs and speaker systems. Back in September, I recommended that you start to buy the companies most highly leveraged to this trend -- broadcasters Viacom (VIA - Get Report), CBS (CBS - Get Report), Walt Disney (DIS - Get Report) and cable giant Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) -- and they're up 14% as a group since.

In Demand

Now I would like to take this one step further and contend that one of the most profitable entertainment trends of 2007 is likely to be the long-delayed and much-anticipated arrival of video-on-demand, or VOD, as a major source of income for major motion picture makers.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AAPL $124.43 -1.54%
AMZN $372.71 -0.50%
CBS $60.64 -2.00%
CMCSA $56.43 -0.32%
DIS $104.93 -1.10%

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