Cheez-It Hitting TV Guide’s Spot

May 29, 2006  •  Post A Comment

TV Guide’s on-demand service Spot is starting its second year with new distribution, additional advertisers-and extra cheese.

The cheese is part of an integrated ad campaign for Kellogg’s Cheez-It snack crackers, the exclusive sponsor of TV Guide Spot during its first year. When hot news or exclusive video appears, the channel’s announcers and graphics announce that viewers are getting “extra cheese.”

The tactic is possible only because, unlike other video-on-demand services that repurpose material from their linear channels, the content on Spot is mostly original, said Dmitri Ponomarev, VP of the service.

Originally launched on Time Warner Cable, Spot is now carried by the Comcast, Bright House and Insight cable systems. This week it will be added to the on-demand offerings on Adelphia and Cox systems, and deals were recently completed for Spot to appear on Cablevision and Charter systems.

Those deals bring the network to 20 million VOD subscribers, nearly the entire VOD universe. The network wouldn’t say how many people are watching its programming. Nielsen Media Research doesn’t track VOD, and other research companies don’t cover all of the cable operators. What numbers TV Guide does have, it is “not allowed to share,” Mr. Ponomarev said, but added that they indicate viewing is increasing.

The network is also looking for increased distribution on broadband, where ad support is strong. While its programming about what to watch on digital cable and VOD is well suited to cable VOD distribution, there are plans to add programming about celebrities. “I think that content lives just as well on broadband,” Mr. Ponomarev said.

The growth in distribution is making it easier to add sponsors.

Before launch, TV Guide Spot went with a single sponsor because “It was very hard without knowing what our audience was going to be before launch,” said Richy Glassberg, senior VP and director of sales for the TV Guide Television group. Cheez-It was the sponsor “and it was a great deal for them and a good deal for us and we tried lots of things. We tried :15s in the front. We tried product integrations. We tried different kinds of graphical treatments. We tried longer-form ads in the back. We did all kinds of fun stuff for them.”

The network also did a lot of research with Cheez-It’s media buying agency, Starcom, and learned a lot about VOD.

For the coming year Cheez-It is expanding its Extra Cheese ad package to TV Guide Channel, the magazine and