On Demand Summit: Sky's the Limit for Xfinity

Diana Kerekes, XFinity On Demand VP/general manager, offered tips on what has helped Comcast's on-demand stable grow to a viable revenue stream for the cable giant.

Kerekes told the room at the B&C/Multichannel News On Demand 3.0 Summit here on Wednesday that the service is used 350 million times a month, involving 175 million hours of on-demand programming. She borrowed a phrase from her son to describe that degree of customer buy-in: "It's big-huge," she said.

Kerekes mentioned an on-screen banner that touts on-demand offerings as viewers scroll through the dial ("Some people call it annoying. We call it effective," she quipped), and broke down aspects of Xfinity's 20-minute promotional reel, which showcases E! talent and exclusive interviews with performers starring in the featured programming.

"We've programmed it for everyone in the house, from Dora on up," she said. "There's something for everyone here. It's a phenomenal marketing tool."

Besides the so-called "barker" reel, Kerekes says Xfinity markets its on-demand offerings via email and direct mail, and by stuffing promotional inserts into customers' cable bills.

The Comcast exec stressed that Xfinity is a partner with content providers, including the Big Four broadcast networks and numerous cable entities, and said the service can help rookie shows launch to a larger audience when they premiere on demand. Premieres enjoyed around 25% higher ratings for their linear TV debuts in Comcast markets, she noted, compared to non-Comcast markets.

"It's a great platform to drive more awareness," she said.

Kerekes added that on demand, launched in 2003 at Comcast, represents "a big business" for the company--and one that may just be big-huge as dynamic ad insertion is expanded beyond a few test markets in the near term. "We're on the cusp of rolling it out," she said.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.