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Making VOD Weekly Habit for Viewers

Apr 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Music-centric video-on-demand network Music Choice has launched weekly VOD programming, marking the company’s first efforts to train consumers to tune in to VOD on a regular weekly basis.
Most VOD users check out the VOD menus on their cable systems when they want to watch a movie or catch up on a premium network’s series, such as HBO’s “In Treatment” or Showtime’s “Californication.”
But since most VOD programmers only refresh content monthly, VOD as a medium has not yet captured appointment viewers who tune in on a regular basis.
If successful, the Music Choice experiment to create weekly viewing habits for VOD could pave the way for other VOD programmers to offer weekly or even daily VOD content.
Music Choice’s offerings primarily consist of music videos, a genre that’s a strong driver of video consumption both on VOD and on the Web. Music videos are evergreen and can be watched whenever a viewer tunes in.
But the digital network is in the process of building its service as a viewer destination and a meaningful ad buy.
Toward those goals, Music Choice has begun offering original programs about music and new artists in addition to its music video slate. That’s the umbrella under which the new programming project falls.
And since Music Choice is refreshing content and ads on a weekly basis, the shorter lead time makes the programming more appealing to time-sensitive marketers.
The service also has partnered with Nielsen to test an effort to marry Music Choice’s VOD measurement information from Rentrak with Nielsen’s national people meter ratings in order to provide marketers with improved viewer data.
The new weekly programming effort launched March 31 with a four-part series called “Who Runs Hip-Hop,” with Boost Mobile as the initial sponsor. The series will delve into different areas of the hip-hop business, such as technology and fan interaction.
The show has a news-documentary feel, said Damon Williams, VP of programming at Music Choice.
Each month Music Choice will cover another topic or genre of music in its weekly programming.
May, for example, will tackle movies and music.
“We are trying to drive VOD to be looked at as a weekly platform as opposed to a monthly place where you go search for content,” Mr. Williams said. The content also will be on-the-Web accessible to Music Choice’s cable partners’ customers.
Original programming like this comprises only about 5% to 10% of Music Choice’s overall views, but it’s critical to building a brand on VOD, said Christina Tancredi, executive VP of Music Choice.
“VOD has been a place for movies and a place to come to and check out a handful of times a month, so this drives viewers back to VOD in a more consistent manner,” she said.
Music Choice draws about 85 million views a month on VOD across its cable partners.
VOD as a medium could benefit from this type of regular programming, said Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group. “It needs to attract positive attention and become a destination for habitual viewing,” he said.
While sports and news content is updated frequently on VOD, as is some premium content, the medium does not boast many weekly series, separate from what a linear network may be offering already on its air.
“The idea that content is consistently refreshed is always a good strategy to keep consumers coming back to a section of the VOD library. The refreshing of movies and programs on premium on-demand is one of the aspects that has led to premium on-demand being such a key component of VOD,” Mr. Leichtman said.
Music Choice is well-positioned to test weekly programming, said Paul Rule, president of VOD research firm Marquest Media Research. According to his research, among people age 12 and older who had ever used VOD, 46% reported using it one or more times per week. That number rose to 50% among adults 18 to 34 and to 65% among teens 12 to 17.
The study also reported that among people who said they use VOD at least once per week, interest in watching Music Choice was 21% above the average of all the 121 networks tracked in the survey.
“Music videos are likely to be seen by many viewers as generic programming—something you tune in to fill time or for background,” Mr. Rule said. “By creating one or more series, Music Choice can create the VOD equivalent of appointment viewing—programming you seek out deliberately.”
Music Choice is promoting the new weekly programming on VOD barker channels on Comcast and in cross-channel spots that some of its cable partners, such as Time Warner, will carry.
The network also is marketing the offering on its digital audio music channels on cable systems.

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