Mag Rack Eyes More Original Programming

May 2, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Rainbow Media’s Mag Rack is looking to change from a video-on-demand brand to a television brand.

“People don’t watch technology,” said Dan Ronayne, senior VP and general manager of Mag Rack.

The service is using the slogan “TV for Whatever Turns You On” for marketing; it appears, for example, whenever a viewer watches one of Mag Rack’s programs.

Over the past six months Mag Rack has added 556,000 VOD-enabled households, bringing the number of households that can view the service to 3.5 million.

Like a regular cable channel, Mag Rack gets a monthly per-subscriber fee. Actual viewership of Mag Rack’s programming doesn’t affect the amount it gets from operators.

Mr. Ronayne declined to say whether Mag Rack is in the black now that it’s 4 years old.

Charter Communications has added Mag Rack in more markets, and Adelphia has put the service on systems in Colorado Springs, Colo., New England/New Hampshire and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Mag Rack reached a distribution deal with DirectTV to include shows from Mag Rack on DirecTV’s FreeView Events channel. If a viewer likes the show, he or she will have to get cable to see more Mag Rack, because video-on-demand is not available via satellite. Gregg Hill, president of Rainbow Network Sales, said Mag Rack is talking to other multiple system operators, including Cox Cable.

Mag Rack has been creating more original programming for VOD. Mr. Ronayne said about 50 percent of its current programming was created by or for Mag Rack. The service offers viewers 40 hours of programming per month. About 25 percent is replaced per week.

A favorite for operators has been a series of programs dealing with movies that are being released to VOD. This month, Mag Rack is working with 20th Century Fox on “`Sideways’ & Wine.” Segments include a walking tour of Santa Ynez, Calif., where the movie was set. Mag Rack will also offer the theatrical trailer.

In previous months Mag Rack has run specials on films, including “Ray” and “School of Rock.” These programs “drive VOD movie buys for cable operators,” Mr. Ronayne said.

Mag Rack recently launched a broadband site that is a companion to its VOD service. The site is available only to subscribers on cable systems that carry Mag Rack. Programming includes titles that are also available on the VOD services as well as some from the Mag Rack library.