Comcast Wooing Advertisers to Its VOD Service

Apr 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Cable giant Comcast, having already won the hearts of its subscribers with its video-on-demand service, turned its attention Friday to wooing advertisers, launching the industry’s first upfront presentation devoted entirely to promoting the virtues of VOD.

The pitch, made in New York at the Museum of Television & Radio, sought to highlight how broad subscriber usage of Comcast’s VOD product represented an opportunity for advertisers and showcased the type of VOD shows that are available to advertisers.

As an added sweetener, Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke hinted that advertisers that get in on the action early could reap benefits that later adopters miss.

Comcast currently has more than 7,000 programs available on its on-demand service, up from 1,700 in 2004. The videos range from music videos and movies to prime-time series from CBS and NBC. The company is also producing original video for its VOD service, covering topics such as fitness, home improvement and even a dating service.

Ninety-five percent of the VOD content is free to Comcast subscribers who receive digital cable service. According to the company, 70 percent of Comcast’s digital cable subscribers use VOD, with music, movies and children’s shows among the most-watched categories. The audience for VOD also tends to skew younger, Comcast said, noting that its research shows that 37 percent of its viewers 18 to 34 used VOD, compared with 20 percent who watch linear television.

“We believe we have changed television and we can change the advertiser experience on cable with VOD,” Mr. Burke told the audience of advertising buyers. “The eyeballs are there to take advantage of that platform.”

To encourage advertisers to step up, Mr. Burke said there would be “benefits to being in at the ground floor,” and assured advertisers that those who jump in early will “get their money’s worth,” since VOD advertising remains a new concept.

Comcast, which has more than 21 million subscribers, has long viewed VOD as an essential weapon in its battle with the satellite companies and has spent a lot of time and effort developing a product it claims satellite rivals can’t match. Around 10 million subscribers get VOD today, but the company is aggressively moving forward with plans to convert its analog subscribers to digital service, which would enable them to access the VOD product.