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TVN Engages in Interactive Chaos

After a nine-month trial involving 250,000 Northern California households, Chaos Media Ventures last week cinched a national distribution deal for its assortment of interactive video-on-demand programs.

TVN Entertainment Corp., which has broadened its own VOD and pay-per-view content horizons in recent months, will provide and market Chaos programming to its affiliate base.

It will also develop new interactive content in association with Chaos, some possibly linked to Quicksilver, the extreme-sports-oriented VOD channel that is scheduled to debut in a few weeks. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Chaos supplies first-run shows and series on various special interests, from martial arts to science. At various points in each program, viewers can personalize the direction it takes by selecting on-screen options with their remote control.

The interactive option is generated by a digital-set-top-compatible signal functionality embedded in the programming. TVN will use its technical facilities to deliver the interactive signals to its affiliates.

TVN and Chaos initiated national distribution negotiations at the Western Show last December. Most elements of the deal were wrapped up by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing's digital conference four months later.


Several AT&T Broadband systems in California have made Chaos product available to customers since last October, via local origination channels.

TVN followed the trial and concluded, "there was some unique, compelling, non-movie content" worth distributing, said business development vice president Glen Kopelson.

"We've already alerted our affiliates about these programs, so we're now in the sales process. As soon as we have our first clearance, we'll start pumping content."

Kopelson couldn't say where and when Chaos programming would be carried outside Northern California.

The goal: To get a number of systems to carry 30 to 40 titles per month, running between five and 10 hours daily, by the end of September. Revenue splits will be determined with each affiliate.

Chaos CEO C.J. Cornell has no plans to entice In Demand or other national VOD content suppliers into deals.

"In fact, working with TVN makes things a lot easier for us," he said. "They have expertise in both programming and technology, and the skill sets work fine for everything we want right now."

Besides Quicksilver, TVN's recently formed TVN Presents unit is working with independent event suppliers to expand the number and scope of events operators can program for VOD each month. Cornell sees some interactive opportunities with that venture, as well as in expanding beyond special-interest titles.

Chaos's ideas include:

  • Set up an advice service, in which viewers ask questions on any subject, then get an expert on-screen for the answer;
  • Include contests in movie presentations, where prizes go to viewers who find items related to the movie, or participate in other games;
  • Have viewers watch a mystery and try to solve the problem before the characters do.