Ready to see if "free" on-demand will drive and retain digital subscribers, Cox Communications Inc. has launched its advertising-supported video-on-demand service in San Diego. The service bowed on channel 997.
Dubbed "FreeZone," the service gives digital subscribers on-demand access to a spate of ad-supported content, including short independent films, action sports vignettes and interviews with local celebrities.
FreeZone programming is supported by long-format, infomercial-type advertising and sponsorships. Media planning company Universal McCann clients Coca-Cola and Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records have committed to advertise on FreeZone.
On the technical end, Cox has teamed with VOD vendors N2 Broadband and Concurrent Computer Corp. to make FreeZone a reality. N2 Broadband's content packager enables Cox to define navigation paths and the content delivered to viewers. The packager allows for bundling of menu choices, still images, video segments and storyboard information. Advertisers can get leads from their advertising segments because the content packager enables viewers to request more information from advertisers through Request For Information sequences.
The ad server, which resides at Cox's VOD-equipped cable headend, receives ad content packages and stores the information about the content it imports. The ad server is designed to ensure compatibility with the VOD system being used. In the San Diego launch, Cox is using Concurrent's MediaHawk 3000 Video Server System. The MediaHawk 3000 platform supports interactive advertising, entertainment on-demand and subscription video-on-demand. Concurrent's system also supports tracking user interface activity within menu screens.