In Demand to Offer a VOD Barker

In Demand LLC is gearing up to offer its affiliates a dedicated video-on-demand barker channel.

Set to bow Sept. 15, the channel will showcase customized movie trailers, coming attractions for planned In Demand events and digital out-of-market sports packages, plus information on the pause, rewind and fast-forward features available through VOD.

The barker channel will feature promotions from all studios that license films to In Demand, including all of the major producers except The Walt Disney Co. and Paramount Pictures Corp.

The service also will pitch special genre titles or stunts, such as a Halloween Alfred Hitchcock series and a "softer side of Arnold," featuring Schwarzenegger's Junior, Twins
and Kindergarten Cop.

"This is a great promotional vehicle for our affiliates and will also provide tremendous benefit to consumers," In Demand senior vice president of video promotion Leigh Bolton said.

Perhaps of greater interest will be a series of customized two-minute vignettes that show subscribers how to order VOD events. They can run as a separate video element inside the graphical user interface of interactive programming guides from Scientific-Atlanta Inc. and Pioneer Electronics Corp.

Time Warner Cable needs one instructional vignette for its S-A system and a second for its Pioneer system. For Cox Communications Inc., In Demand may create four different how-to video pieces.

Each video can include individual system-level prices for VOD content.

In Demand is also in talks to create how-to presentations for affiliates AT&T Broadband and Comcast Corp., said Bolton. All told, In Demand will likely create 15 to 20 different how-to pieces for the different VOD setups across its affiliate MSOs.

The pay-per-view and VOD programmer is also talking with Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. about the possible inclusion of video promotion elements in the next release of its IPG. The two-minute pieces, which would appear in the upper right-hand corner of the barker channel inside the S-A and Pioneer guides, will depict users demonstrating VOD ordering and features.

The vignettes will also show close-ups of the ordering screen and the remote control to effectively guide consumers through the process.

The how-to pieces run from a cable system's main VOD server, and also can be placed on local-origination channels or on standalone channels near various VOD "channels."

Time Warner will provide the bulk of its 1 million digital subscribers with access to the VOD promotional tools at launch. Overall, In Demand expects the barker to reach 3 million homes by year-end.