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Rentrak Develops VOD-Report Roster

Some cable programmers will get more access to reports detailing the number of cable subscribers that view their video-on-demand content through agreements signed last week with Rentrak Corp.

Viacom Inc. cut a deal with Rentrak that will give the media giant access to reports on video-on-demand content from Paramount Pictures, CBS, MTV: Music Television, Nickelodeon, Noggin, The N, Comedy Central, VH1 and future on-demand content the company may launch.

Rentrak also announced similar deals with Expo TV, National Geographic Channel, NFL Network and Ripe TV. The first content provider Rentrak signed last year was Music Choice.

Rentrak and its cable partners are still holding close to the vest most of the details about how cable subscribers use on-demand platforms. While Nielsen Media Research releases detailed weekly ratings reports to the public, Rentrak and its cable-operator customers have chosen to keep most of the data private.

For example, Comcast Corp. publishes a list of the top 10 weekly on-demand programs accessed by its subscribers, but the nation’s largest cable operator doesn’t reveal how many people actually watch the shows, or whether they view an entire on-demand program or only watch a few seconds of it.

Rentrak said the cable programmers it reached agreements with will get access to its “On Demand Essentials” content-provider Web site, which contains on-demand data from MSOs to whom Rentrak has sold its on-demand monitoring system. In addition to Comcast, the operators on board are Charter Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Bresnan Communications and Insight Communications Co.

While the programmers will be able to view data about how cable subscribers view their content, the networks won’t get access to on-demand data from any of their competitors.

“They [networks] have access to their numbers, but it’s always been the anticipation that they will also have access to an aggregate of their category, and therefore what the market share is of their [programming] category,” said Rentrak executive vice president Ken Papagan.

Papagan said Rentrak will be able to share reports with programmers about how their networks perform compared to other programmers in the same genre once Rentrak and its MSO partners come up with a uniform way to categorize the programming.

The Rentrak reports detail only four data points: the number of on-demand-enabled set-tops; the number of views per on-demand-enabled set-top; the number of unique set-top box views; and total minutes viewed.

Rentrak doesn’t provide reports that show whether cable subscribers fast-forward through on-demand content.

Papagan said Rentrak is also looking to form a service that would provide advertisers with reports on on-demand usage, but that the company’s cable operator customers would first have to agree on which data points should be released. The advertising service may be available next year, Papagan added.