Mediacom and Suddenlink have both entered into similar deals with Blockbuster that start with cross-promotional opportunities and may eventually result in the MSOs hosting the Blockbuster On Demand service. Both are working through video-on-demand partner TVN-Avail.

The partnerships will start with the MSOs setting up service kiosks in Blockbuster retail outlets. In exchange, the MSOs will put Blockbuster’s logo on their movies on-demand screens.

Blockbuster gets a boost from a presence in the MSOs’ interfaces, yes; but equally important, the MSOs get to leverage Blockbuster’s brand recognition and associations.

Jerry Dow, chief marketing and sales officer for Suddenlink, explained that the company does not yet have on-demand in many markets, so, “when we ask our customers, ‘why don’t you use more movies on demand?’ the number one response is ‘what?’” Dow said.

Blockbuster’s whole brand is about seeing movies when you want them, so the presence of the logo should ideally give customers a quick-hit understanding of the concept.

A next step is likely to be cooperation with Blockbuster's by-mail, vending, in-store and digital channels.

Meanwhile, the partners – the two MSOs, Blockbuster, TVN-Avail – will all be working to determine a way to integrate Blockbuster On Demand and the two MSOs’ VOD services.

Suddenlink, for example, is currently offering about 600 movies a month on-demand, with some monthly refresh. An arrangement with Blockbuster could ultimately mean access to thousands of titles for Suddenlink and Mediacom customers.

“Some of our on-demand customers still like going to the store to rent a movie. They’re still interested in films by mail. But now people also want to use the big flat screens they got for Christmas, sit down on the couch and push a button,” Dow said. “Having a deep library and instant access – that’s the ideal.”

The alliance is scheduled to roll out in phases beginning in September in Suddenlink's Charleston, W.Va., and Mediacom's Des Moines, Iowa, service areas.

"Avail-TVN is excited about this marketing alliance and seeing how the Blockbuster brand can enhance consumer awareness of video-on-demand and other platforms," said Doug Sylvester, chief strategy officer of Avail-TVN. "In cooperation with Blockbuster, we look forward to supporting this innovative approach with two of our most resourceful affiliates, Suddenlink and Mediacom, which is designed to enhance the consumer experience and to drive transactional revenue across multiple platforms."

Blockbuster introduced its on-demand service late last year and has been promoting the service through a $99 retail box – similar to products like Roku.

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