Studios, cable companies team for VOD

Campaign designed to boost awareness of on-demand

NEW YORK -- A slew of Hollywood studios and cable companies are teaming up for a $30 million advertising campaign over the coming months to further promote awareness of movies available on cable VOD.

The Movies on Demand initiative comes as on-demand film rentals have hit new highs as viewing habits are changing, and studios are increasingly looking to capitalize on their high margins amid a more mature DVD market.

The TV, print and online ad campaign runs under the theme "The Video Store Just Moved In" and highlights how easy it is for digital cable subscribers to view movies at home with a simple click of their remote. It also includes a dedicated Web site at and a Movies on Demand logo.

Over the next 12 weeks, the ad blitz will feature new titles available on VOD, including some offered day-and-date with DVD releases, such as "The Blind Side" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox."

The studio partners in the Movies on Demand initiative include Time Warner's Warner Bros Entertainment, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBC Universal's Universal Pictures and Focus Features, Rogue, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment. The cable partners include Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision's digital service iO TV, Insight, Armstrong, Bend Broadband and Bright House Networks.

"Movies on Demand is a great way for consumers to rent movies," said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group. "They are reasonably priced, always available, and there will be more day-and-date titles this year than ever before."

"Consumers are accelerating their use of Movies on Demand because it's the easiest and fastest way for them to find and enjoy top new releases," said Derek Harrar, senior vp and general manager, video and entertainment services at cable giant Comcast.

Mike Dunn, president, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Worldwide, echoed that view. "We've seen on-demand rentals hit an all-time high this past year, and research shows that it will continue to grow," he said.

Rob Marcus, CFO of Time Warner Cable, said that, for cable companies, on-demand movies are a key distinguishing offer from competitors, such as satellite TV and even video rental stores. "It's unique to us, and studios have come to the same conclusion" that it's a good product and business, he said.

"VOD in the home is a fantastic consumer proposition," echoed Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. "And it's a strong business with a good growth profile."

He isn't concerned that video rental partners, such as Blockbuster, will feel slighted by the campaign. "Blockbuster is a partner of ours in VOD as well," he told THR. "We will help grow the overall marketplace, which is good for all our partners."

More day-and-date releases on cable VOD have helped boost usage, with Warner Bros. releasing most of its films that way these days. "The closer to the theatrical window, the likelier films are to be watched by our customers," said Marcus.

In Demand has reported a more than seven-fold increase in day-and-date titles over the past two years. And according to Rentrak, in 2009 eight of the top 10 performing on-demand movies were day-and-date titles.