Comcast expands troops' video greetings to Md.

December 15, 2006|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,Sun Reporter

Even though Lt. Col. Jim Gribble is stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the Maryland Army National Guard, his wife in Savage has already seen him several times this week.

Christine Gribble of Savage has been watching a video greeting her husband recorded this year through Comcast Corp.'s Troop Greetings On Demand.

The service is being made available for the first time this year to Comcast customers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington.

It will be free of charge through Jan. 22 for digital cable subscribers; for families of troops featured in the programming who subscribe to basic cable, the company is providing free upgrades to digital service for the duration of the programming.

More than 110 Maryland service personnel have recorded greetings posted with Troop Greetings On Demand, according to Comcast. The videos are provided to the cable company by the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service.

Colonel Gribble is among them.

His wife has watched the video over and over again. She showed it to their 3 1/2 -year-old son, Trevor, and said she plans to share it with visitors.

"The hardest part of a deployment is the emotional part," said Christine Gribble, who also watches the greetings of other local soldiers. "Anything like this that just bridges that gap for families is wonderful."

As more viewers want to watch programs on their own schedule, rather than at times set by the networks, Comcast's on-demand offerings have been growing. The cable giant introduced Candidates on Demand earlier this year in Maryland and has added programming such as Dating on Demand and Karaoke on Demand -- all of which is free to digital subscribers.

Troop Greetings On Demand was launched three years ago and made available in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.

John Lamontagne, a Comcast spokesman, said the service comes to Maryland after much success in other areas.

"The company decided to expand the program to the new areas because it's something that people enjoy," Lamontagne said. "Our customers are really appreciative of it."

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