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On the Go With Vongo

Soon after joining Starz in January 2005, Joseph A. Cantwell saw a huge schematic showing Starz' plans for a subscription broadband video-download service. That's when he had his “aha moment.”

“I could see clearly that Starz and Liberty Media were leveraging all their experience and content to create something game-changing,” he says, adding, “We had less than 360 days to come up with a name, create a brand and launch a whole new service.”

Notes Bob Greene, senior VP of advanced services at Starz Entertainment, “I gave Joe the challenge of building a brand in a new business in a very short period.”

Cantwell, VP of marketing, advanced services, at Starz, came to this challenge after a long career in cable and broadband. He worked with a Florida cable system, Bravo Networks, and eventually AOL, where he managed the primetime interactive broadcast television service, was part of the senior management team for AOL Broadband and helped launch AOL Music On Demand.

But Vongo posed a special challenge given the schedule, and, since it was designed to expand Starz' reach beyond pay TV to new consumers in a new medium, Cantwell explains, “we weren't looking for a literal brand or offshoots of existing Starz brands. We wanted to create a new brand that could build over time.”

To establish Vongo as a “next-generation” platform for playing movies and video, Cantwell's marketing and branding campaigns emphasized how the service would allow users to personalize content and make the transition from physical media, like DVDs, to digital libraries accessed online or stored on their computer.

During the first year of operation, Vongo had 3 million downloads; the average consumer is downloading 12.3 titles a month and storing four or five. “If you consider that it took Movielink five years to reach 1 million downloads,” Cantwell says, “we're off to a very good start.”