Mag Rack Buffs Up With Originals

Rainbow Media Holdings Inc.'s Mag Rack video-on-demand service — buffing up its programming image under the tagline “TV For Whatever Turns You On” — is adding a new fitness segment and more promotional fare tied to popular movies.

Next month, the VOD service will debut new, original fitness content hosted by Sue Fleming, author of the Buff fitness books, said senior vice president and general manager Dan Ronayne. Ten segments — including “Buff in Shorts,” “Buff in Little Black Dress” and “Buff in Tank Top” — come under Mag Rack's Personal Trainer category.

Another recent entry, Smart Carb Gourmet, features low-carb recipes prepared by award-winning chefs.

Overall, Mag Rack has an even mix of original and acquired programming and plans to add more original content in the near future, Ronayne said. Product is refreshed 25% per week and 100% each month.

“People don't watch VOD, they watch television,” Ronayne said. “We want to let operators know that Mag Rack is an entertainment brand that provides programming to consumers when they want to see it.”

In May, the service will host its seventh promotion centering around a pay-per-view or VOD title. Sideways and Wine features behind-the-scenes segments of 20th Century Fox's Sideways, as well as selected segments from Mag Rack's wine programs.

A new customizable broadband site ( will enable cable-modem subscribers receiving the video service to stream two originally produced current programs, plus a pair of library segments, Ronayne said.

The investment is paying off with distribution traction, said Rainbow Network Sales president Gregg Hill. Mag Rack recently struck an accord with Adelphia Communications that makes it available on systems in New England; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and South Florida.

Charter Communications Inc., which already offered Mag Rack through systems reaching 1.2 million subscribers, has put it in front of an additional 600,000 customers in California; Reno, Nev.; and Georgia.

“Charter has had Mag Rack for the past two years. They see the value of the product by rolling it out to new systems,” Hill said, noting instructional athletics-on-demand network Sportskool is also being added to Charter systems.

All told, Mag Rack is in 3.5 million homes.

Hill also said Mag Rack “Short Cuts” — content running from eight to 30 minutes in length — is gaining exposure via DirecTV Inc.'s FreeView weekend service, part of its Total Choice package.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.