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Reelz Offers VOD Guarantee

ReelzChannel has come up with an innovative way to entice its viewers to sample pay-per-view and video-on-demand content: it will recommend a current title with a money-back guarantee, to be paid by ReelzChannel directly to the consumer.

Network chairman and CEO Stan Hubbard said ReelzChannel is all about communicating information on the best movie and TV content to fans who subscribe to cable and satellite services. Of the guarantee, he said: “Call us crazy, and we probably are. But if we can't stand behind our brand, nobody else can.”

The guarantee will be announced on-air Oct. 16 by reporter Sam Rubin during the network's signature entertainment-news show Dailies at 8 p.m. (ET).

To participate, subscribers will have to live in a system where the channel is available and must pre-register at before they buy and view the recommended movie. If they don't like the PPV or VOD selection, they must fill out a form at the Web site, then send that plus their video bill, as proof of purchase, to the network within 60 days.

Hubbard said the network has no deals with distributors to recommend their movies, or to pay the refunds.

“I wish we did,” he said, adding that cable and satellite distributors won't have to do anything to ensure consumers get their money back.

ReelzChannel will be providing distributors with some cross-channel promotional spots to promote the channel and its guarantee program.

There is no formal process for selecting the guaranteed movie, Hubbard said. Everyone at the channel is enough of a film buff that the selection is more a matter of asking staffers, “Whadaya think?” he said.

ReelzChannel will use the guarantee to prompt viewers to get over their intimidation of using the VOD platform; and to introduce them to a good film they may have missed due to limited release schedules or other factors, he said. That doesn't mean the channel has ruled out recommending blockbusters, however, he added. Recommendation of those films will depend on what else may be in a PPV/VOD window, though.

The first selection is a PG-13 rated film that got good reviews but was not widely seen, he said.

Hubbard said ReelzChannel executives considered traditional promotions, such as sweepstakes, but focus-group reaction to a viewing guarantee was “off the charts.” Viewers indicated they would be more adventurous in their PPV picks if they knew they could get their money back, he said.

Asked about the budget for a viewer-guarantee program, Hubbard conceded, “We don't even know how to budget. If the first one gets out of hand, we'll rethink [the promotion].”

Consumers will be limited to one refund per movie, per household; and two refunds in total for a year, he said.