Turner Swims Into VOD

Turner Broadcasting System Inc. is diving more deeply into video-on-demand, launching separate packages from Turner Classic Movies and Cartoon Network’s 'Adult Swim’ block.

Until now, the Time Warner Inc. programming stable had offered only a small amount of Cable News Network specials, plus some vintage and current cartoons from Cartoon Network. No affiliate agreements have been struck for the new services as of yet, officials said, and Turner is hoping they end up as “pay products.”

“We have this great library of product we own and not a high repeat factor the way we schedule,” TCM executive vice president and general manager Tom Karsch said. “VOD is an opportunity to get more titles into the marketplace as a convenience for consumers.”

TCM offers 350 movies a month from its 3,300-movie library, plus 2,000 licensed movies at any one time, Karsch said. Any particular movie might show up only once or twice a quarter.


The VOD service will carry 10 movies, with about 25% of the titles turning over every week. Movies will include Robert Osborne introductions and such added-value material as trailers and behind-scenes footage. TCM doesn’t run those features on a regular schedule, so offering them on VOD makes them easier to find.

Adult Swim VOD will be a mix of 10 hours of comedy and action animation from the 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. block on Cartoon.

“We have such a rich library and some viewers may not get to see the material,” said Cartoon Network general manager Jim Samples. Younger Cartoon fans, for example, can’t stay up late enough to watch it.

“Through VOD, we can offer content whenever those viewers want to see it,” Samples said.

Titles will include Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Home Movies, Sealab 2021, Witch Hunter Robin, Space Ghost, The Big O and other Japanese animation that’s part of Adult Swim.

One-third of the 10 hours will be exclusive to the VOD platform, Samples said. “Many of the action series are serialized, so VOD gives us the opportunity to let people catch up.”

Turner Network Sales senior vice president and general manager, interactive/enhanced TV Kevin Cohen said he was “excited about the reception we’ve had with early discussions with operators.”

As for the business model, Cohen said: “We believe these products are pay products, and we’re pursuing different models with different operators.”


Advertising will be limited to promotions at the outset, but Turner is talking with advertisers about cross-platform deals that could include VOD.

VOD also is seen as a way to get consumers who might not be regular viewers of the linear channel to sample it. And on-demand promotions from the linear network can drive viewers to the platform.

Classic movies and animation also are strong DVD markets, and VOD could help drive sales in that arena, Samples and Karsch said.