Reelzchannel Moves Forward With VOD Promo Despite Layoffs

As the basic cabler Reelzchannel pares back its staff, the company will continue to support its video-on-demand promotion on behalf of operators and put new programming on the air, said chairman and CEO Stan Hubbard.

The channel, owned by Minnesota-based Hubbard Media, notified 40 of its roughly 200 staffers late last week that they are losing their jobs.

The staffers are involved with the production of the channel's signature show, Dailies. That show will continue in production into January, so the employees will still have jobs for the next 60 days, Hubbard said.

Reelzchannel will reposition some of the content formerly contained in the Dailies strip. Beginning Jan. 12, news on theatrical and DVD releases, plus the latest on pay-per-view and VOD will be programmed at three minutes until the hour, every hour.

Dailies executive producer Clif Dunn will continue with the channel, creating feature stories about movies and movie-making that are exclusive to the network.

Hubbard said that a "couple of" other shows remain on the cancellation bubble, adding that there are also plans to launch new shows on the channel. Decisions will be made within the next two months, he said.

But he stressed the Reelzchannel Guaranteed Movie Recommendation program will proceed—at least through the first quarter—even though Dailies, the show in which the recommendation was made, is going away.

The channel recommends one VOD film a month, guaranteeing that viewers who pre-register at the channel's Web site, and then buy and watch the film can get their money back if they decide they don't like the touted film.

Hubbard said pre-registration has run about 1,000 for smaller films, such as the first recommendation Son of Rambow; fewer people have registered for refunds for watching known hits such as Iron Man, he said. "Only a handful" of viewers have asked for any money back, he said, adding the program is "a decent investment."

The recommendations will continue to be made on Thursdays, but in on-air promotional announcements, he said.