Sie-ing the not-so-distant future
In April 2004, John Sie, then
the chairman and CEO of Starz Encore Group, made the bold prediction that movies
will regularly premiere on cable and satellite, rather than
in theaters, within the next 10 years.
Speaking at a Harvard Business School Media Conference in
Boston, he explained that high-definition television penetration
and high-end home theater technology would head up this trend.
Sie went on to note that a studio could generate $200 million
in revenue if just 20 percent of HD homes paid $19.95 to see
I bring this up now for a couple of reasons: Hollywood isn't
enjoying exactly what anyone would call a banner summer at
the box office, and we're already starting to witness some
of the seeds of Sie's vision.
Oh, and it doesn't hurt to mention that Starz Encore is pushing
that vision a bit, as well. Its "Early Premieres"
ensures that some titles are available on VOD before they
are shown on Starz!, the company's linear flagship channel.
It's not nearly the same as seeing a first-run flick on TV
before it shows up in theaters, but it's an excellent way
to add value to the SVOD service. M. Night Shyamalan's
The Village, for example, debuted July 11 on Starz On
Demand. It won't show up on the linear service until July
23, according to the company's Web-based schedule.
But perhaps more in line with Sie's ultimate vision are a
couple of events that happened in the TV world last week.
Fanning the flames of its "VSPOT" launch, VH1 leveraged the broadband
platform to offer early access to the new season of The
Surreal Life 5a "celebreality" series
that puts people like retired slugger Jose Canseco, The
Apprentice villain Omarosa and Sandi Denton of Salt-n-Pepa
fame under the same roofand the cameras capture the
strangeness that follows.
Another fly-on-the-wall series, CBS' Big Brother 6, took a similar route
with RealNetworks Inc.,
offering (for $12.99 per month) 24/7 access to a live video
channel showing houseguest activity, including much that won’t
show up on the series.
Those are examples involving the little screen. But the most
interesting event last week involved the big screenthe
introduction of ClickStar Inc.
A partnership of Revelations Entertainment and Intel Corp., ClickStar
wants to market movies for download prior to the DVD window
and perhaps while they still appear in theaters.
The growth of movie piracy, rather than the advent of high-speed
data connections, is a primary factor behind ClickStar, this
coming from actor Morgan Freeman, a Revelations Entertainment
Although cable will play an enabler, rather than direct business
role, with an "over-the-top" IP bypass service like
ClickStar, it does come one step closer to Sie's image of
at life beyond the 30-second spot
Although DVRs and VOD technologies
are starting to alter viewing habits, they have yet to completely
change traditional advertising models. But advertisers and
the companies that provide these new technologies are quickly
forming strategies for the day when DVRs and VOD reach critical
"The impact [of DVRs and VOD] is potentially dramatic,"
noted Atlas On Demand Vice President of Business Development
Jay Stiller, who moderated a panel on this subject late last
month at the C-COR Global IP Summit in Barcelona, Spain. "There
must be life beyond the 30-second spot."
Although these technologies present "a lot of disruption
in the advertising world today" and a possible threat,
they should also be viewed as enablers for more advanced forms
of advertising, noted Olivier Wellmann, head of product marketing
for Europe, Middle East and Africa at OpenTV Corp.
He explained that there is plenty of value in interactive
advertising, including increased recall and awareness among
viewers who are more engaged to such advertising and tend
to stick with those channels longer. But, he added, everything
must be measurable, or it is useless to the advertiser.
Director of Marketing David Whittaker added that "telescoping"the
ability to obtain more information on an advertised productis
a “very active” extension of the 30-second spot
market in the United Kingdom. It’s so active that it
carries a 20 percent premium on airtime that utilizes telescoping
methods, he added.
Media Group, meanwhile, has seen this major trend
coming as people continue to migrate to the Web and play more
games, and further neutralize the 30-second spot.
If that trend goes un-addressed, what will likely follow is
an oversupply of 30-second spot inventory, and a downward
price of CPM (cost per thousand), noted Rich Fickle, Ascent's
executive vice president of strategic development.
But that trend also opens up an opportunity for new forms
of interactive advertising. Ascent, for example, is already
working with major advertisers in the auto industryhistorically
an early adopter in this area.
But measurement has to go beyond the traditional CPM model
and delve further into the quality of the audience. With new
technology at their fingertips, advertisers will want to know
how long and how often people are viewing advertising content,
(Editor’s note: Much more on this panel and subject
will be covered in the August 2005 issue of CED.)
Comcast enters VOD 'Vortex'
Comcast Cable will expand its on-demand programming
menu for kids via a deal with Canada-based Corus Entertainment.
Comcast plans to launch the service, dubbed Vortex On Demand,
by mid-month. It will feature hundreds of hours of programming
for kids ages six to 12, including titles and series such
as Jacob Two-Two, Tales from the Crypt Keeper,
Pippi Longstocking and My Dad the Rock Star.
Comcast will offer these shows "free" to digital
customers in VOD-enabled markets, which today includes 90
percent of the operator's footprint.
Vortex On Demand complements other children-related VOD services
from Comcast. The MSO also offers Pre-K Kids On Demand and
PBS KIDS Sprout.
EchoStar in a sporting mood
Corp. has expanded its interactive television (iTV)
lineup with Sporting News TV, a service that enables viewers
to track players, stats and team news spanning leagues such
as the National Football League, Major League Baseball and
the National Basketball Association.
The service, developed by OpenTV Corp., is being offered for no additional
charge on Channel 100 on the DISH system. It essentially combines
several EchoStar iTV channels (My Scores, Baseball, Pro Football,
College Football and College Hoops) into one.
In addition to the NFL, MLB and NBA, the service also features
coverage of the National Hockey League, NASCAR and NCAA football
Time Warner adds Turner VOD fare
Time Warner Cable has agreed to distribute on-demand
content from TBS and TNT in several markets, including Austin
and El Paso/Rio Grande, Texas; Binghamton and Syracuse, N.Y.;
Charlotte, N.C.; and Los Angeles, Calif. The TBS On Demand
and TNT On Demand services will each offer eight to 10 hours
TBS, for example, will showcase shorts and highlights from
original shows such as Minding the Store and Daisy
Does America, as well as original, full-length movies,
including Sweet Revenge and T-Bone & Weasel.
TNT, meanwhile, will serve up movies and series shown on the
linear network, as well as extras (behind-the-scenes and long-form
trailers, for example) for originals such as Into the West
and The Closer.
We are making changes and additions (including international
deployments) to our Web-based
"living" deployment chart. If you have
a new deployment to report for the VOD Scorecard and the Web-based
deployment chart, please contact CED Editor Jeff Baumgartner.