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Rentrak Prepares for the Future

7 Jun, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Sandra Kilbridge

A surge in content earmarked for video-on-demand has prompted Rentrak Corp. to expand its on-demand media measurement unit.

Portland, Ore.-based Rentrak has appointed Sandra Kilbridge to the position of VP, business development. Kilbridge is based in New York.

Kilbridge will be responsible for the development of media measurement contracts with program networks and creators of on-demand content. She is the former VP of programming for Cablevision Systems' recently shuttered, then re-launched, VOOM high-definition satellite TV unit.

Kilbridge reports to Cathy Hetzel, SVP of OnDemand Essentials.

Rentrak last year began tracking consumer-viewing habits for cable multiple system operator (MSO) Comcast Communications. Since then, it has added Charter Communications, Insight Communications and Cablevision. Rentrak tracks cable subscribers' VOD and pay-per-view viewing habits, including pauses, stops, rewinds and fast-forwards.

A secured link on the Rentrak Web site allows MSOs access to their anonymous customer viewing habits. A subscriber-based site for content providers is scheduled to launch this summer.

“Media measurement is critical to the on-demand industry,” Kilbridge said. “Many programmers are providing content for free [as a value-add service], and they need to be able to support those costs by selling to advertisers.”

Currently, operators such as HBO and Showtime offer some VOD-specific content free to their subscribers or as an additional charge for their subscription VOD (SVOD) service.

“We are seeing a trend of original content specifically for VOD,” Hetzel said. “It would be interesting to see if that content ends up for distribution on the home video side.”

She doesn't see VOD impacting home video despite its market penetration.

“We believe both of these entities will continue to grow,” Hetzel said.

Kilbridge said the data allows content providers to increase, alter and monitor the types of promotions that are working or not working for them. She said programmers always are looking for ways to generate revenue for their efforts.

“I don't see VOD measurement superseding video rental measurement,” Kilbridge said. “I am a Netflix subscriber, watch VOD and even go to Blockbuster. You get your content from different sources. It's all sort of additive.

“We want to be part of both markets and any market where the consumer is [interacting] with the content.”

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