Demand's fierce for VOD

Market opens with raft of deals

The business models are iffy, the deals confusing and the money's a joke, but that's not stopping the Hollywood studios and international production giants from rushing to sign VOD deals with every Tom, Dick and telco buying at MIPTV.

Consider just a sampling of VOD deals unveiled on the first day of the trade show:

Warner Bros. TV International and HBO signed multiyear output deals with Gallic telecommunications giant Orange to supply product for its cable, IPTV and mobile services in France. Orange also closed an exclusive multiyear deal with France's Fidelite Films for its new VOD service called the Orange Cinema Series.

European broadcasting giant ProSiebenSat.1 signed its first subscription VOD deal with Disney, closing for such titles as "Toy Story 2" and "Armageddon" for the Teutonic player's VOD service Maxdome. ProSieben also signed traditional transactional VOD deals with Disney for newer titles including "Ratatouille" and "Enchanted" as well as for new series of ABC hits "Lost," "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy."

A&E Networks closed its first HD VOD deal in Asia, signing with Korea Telekom to offer a high-definition on-demand version of its branded History Channel in Korea.

Deutsche Telekom picked up a raft of films and animated series from kids TV group EM.Entertainment for exploitation on Telekom's new on-demand service Videoload.

With some folks estimating that revenue from VOD services will top $10 billion in the next five years and with about half of that expected to come outside North America, it's easy to see why the Hollywood studios are jumping on the VOD wagon.

But the swelling number of services and business models makes on-demand deals bewilderingly complex. Because VOD deals also tend to be nonexclusive, for any one title a studio could have a half-dozen or more separate on-demand deals per territory.

It's a lot of work for a market that still is worth a fraction of the traditional over-the-air and pay TV deals.