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Digital Delivery Formats Can Coexist

31 Jul, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Packaged entertainment can coexist happily with cable, satellite and Internet video-on-demand (VOD) if the interests work together, a panel of representatives from those segments agreed.

“We think this can be additive. The question is whether it's going to be a competitive or a collaborative thing,” InDemand's Sergei Kuharsky told a near-capacity audience at the Digital Domain panel yesterday. “If it's competitive, we think we have the better offering.”

Whenever movies have appeared on TV, they feed the video markets, said Starz On Demand's Greg DePrez. He mentioned a video rental dealer who once said he would like to offer cable bill payment in his store to capture a movie-loving audience that would patronize both sources. That can work both ways because “once you learn to navigate a DVD, you're better at navigating video-on-demand,” he said.

Cumbersome navigation hampers most VOD services, panelists said. There is technology out there that would allow viewers to navigate VOD movie sessions like they do DVD menus, Kuharsky said, but that is still difficult to offer in a cable or satellite environment.

The companies represented offer movies in various packages: InDemand lets cable and satellite viewers order movies and watch them as many times as they choose over a 24-hour window after ordering; Lions Gate/Blockbuster-owned Cinemanow is an Internet VOD provider; and Starz is a cable/satellite multiplex with an on-demand component and plans to venture into an Internet add-on.

Brick-and-mortar stores still have some advantages to exploit. “I can't put as many things on my server as you can on your shelves,” Kuharsky said.

InDemand and Cinemanow tend to get most of their business from early adopters, so their demographic skews toward men, panelists said.

On Cinemanow, adult titles are the highest-demand category, but Eisen did not illustrate how that affects the demographic.

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