Verizon Kicks Off Free ‘On Demand Marathon’

Looking to boost overall VOD usage and perhaps nudge customers to buy more paid, transactional on-demand fare later on, Verizon FiOS TV today kicks off an On Demand Marathon (opens in new tab) that provides free access to more than 1,700 movies and north of 50 full season of TV series from networks such as NBC, HGTV, Food Network, HBO, Starz and EPIX. 

Developed for the long, holiday weekend, the free VOD-fest runs through Tuesday, May 28.  Verizon customers can access the Free Marathon folder by pressing the On Demand button on their remotes or tuning to channel 900.

“It’s our biggest free event ever,” said Verizon FiOS TV  director of content strategy and acquisition Joseph Lawson, noting that a review of customer activity over the last 18 months “found some really powerful evidence” that VOD reduces churn and that most customers who buy transactional VOD start off by watching free on demand content.

“It keeps our customers happier and overall reduces our churn rate while having a positive impact on our transactional revenues,” he said. 

Verizon, Lawson said, offers access to a massive VOD library that includes high quality and new content, “but we have to showcase that.” According to SNL Kagan study released in February, Verizon FiOS TV offered an average of 45,000 VOD titles per month in 2012, followed by Comcast (35,000), Cox (20,000) and Time Warner Cable (19,000).

In addition to free access to content from premium networks HBO, Starz (original series), and EPIX, Verizon’s On Demand Marathon will also give customers temporary access to other subscription-based VOD services, including the Gaiam TV health and fitness service and ViewNow, a paid VOD service from Vubiquity that regularly sells for $5.99 per month.

Verizon also hopes users will take advantage of the promo to binge out on free, ad-supported TV series. 

Verizon’s VOD Marathon promo is for titles delivered to the set-top, and not Flex View, which lets customers rent or buy from a menu of 35,000-plus titles on tablets, smartphones, PCs and other connected devices.

Verizon’s promo comes on the heels of Comcast’s Xfinity Watchathon Week in March, which offered more than 3,500 episodes from 30 TV networks on set-tops and connected devices. The promotion, which will return next year and become an annual event for Comcast, resulted in double-digit increases in VOD viewership and “blew away” several of the MSO's on demand usage records