New VOD Service Includes Ad Space

Feb 16, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Denver residents soon may be able test-drive a new amusement park ride on their cable system. That’s because Comcast is launching video-on-demand in Denver next month, and the new offering will allocate space for advertising content, possibly including a virtual on-demand tour of the rides at Denver amusement park Six Flags Elitch Gardens.
As cable operators continue to deploy VOD aggressively throughout their systems, the new technology has also become a new platform for local ads. Comcast devotes a section of its VOD offering to what it calls “Marketplace,” an on-air space where viewers can check out additional content from advertisers.
Elitch Gardens is planning to introduce a new ride this summer, though the details are still under wraps, said Pat Ivers, VP and general manager for Comcast Spotlight. As part of a larger media buy on local cable, the amusement park is designing VOD “virtual rides” for the new attraction as well as for its existing rides.
The advertising opportunities in “Marketplace” have been included in every appropriate pitch since January, Mr. Ivers said.
Other advertisers are showing interest in the new on-demand platform. For example, Colorado Heart and Body Imaging plans to use the VOD space to provide more detailed information about virtual colonoscopies, heart scans and bone scans than it can convey in a 30-second spot, said Karen Haley, director of operations for the preventive medicine center. The on-demand platform allows the center to educate the public in more detail about the benefits of its procedures, she said.
The service is similar to what might be found on the Web, except that it is offered directly to television sets and the quality of its video transmission is far superior.
Comcast is also hoping to hammer out a deal with local theater company Denver Center Attractions to offer on-demand previews of performances and bios of actors.
Comcast plans to begin the VOD rollout in March, with a full introduction to the area by the end of the second quarter.
Mr. Ivers said this sort of on-demand ad opportunity is another area where cable can differentiate itself from broadcast. Traditional TV allows for 30- and 60-second spots, but VOD allows for more flexibility, he said.