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Comcast to Play Matchmaker

June 19, 2004|David Colker | Times Staff Writer

Now you can suffer rejection in the comfort of your own living room.

Cable giant Comcast Corp. will begin airing three-to-five-minute video personals next month as part of its video-on-demand programming in its hometown of Philadelphia.

It's perhaps the most open invitation to public ridicule since karaoke.

"The goal is not to make anyone look like a dork," said Ken Deckinger, whose speed-dating service, HurryDate, will begin producing the videos this month. "We're going to bring out everyone's true personality."

Channel surfers looking for love will be able to view the video personals starting in mid-July. When a couch potato sees an intriguing video, he or she can log on to the HurryDate website to request a date. The person in the video can study the suitor's online profile before deciding whether to accept -- or pretend the e-mail never got through.

Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, wouldn't say whether it had plans to launch the service in Los Angeles and other cities if it turns out to be a hit.

The company has 1.5 million subscribers in the Philadelphia area, of which 600,000 pay a $4.95 premium each month for digital cable service. Executives hope special features such as TV dating will boost that figure.

"It's a value-added service for our digital customers," said Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander, ever the romantic.

Are there any restrictions?

"No nudity," Alexander said.

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