Starz, Comcast Bow VOD Shortcut6 Apr, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Starz Entertainment and Comcast Communications, among others, have launched Enteract Now, a one-stop link that grants viewers instant access to the on-demand version of a movie or other program they’re watching on a traditional television channel using on-screen shortcuts.
Unveiled last week at an industry trade show, Robert Clasen, chairman and CEO of Starz, LLC, said the video-on-demand tool is designed to encourage viewers to use on-demand and HD on-demand programming. Enteract Now utilizes the enhanced binary interchange format (EBIF) specification, which has been an ongoing industry-wide initiative.
Faced with increasing resistance from consumers to premium channels and related costs during the economic downturn, cable operators believe a user-friendly option predicated on a user’s viewing schedule might mitigate financial concerns.
VOD programming represents both repurposed ad-supported programming and pay-per-view content. Previously, viewers of ad-supported content either had to record it on a digital video recorder (DVR) or determine whether it was available on VOD.
The new service also gives viewers the ability to instantly access a list of upcoming programming on the channel they are watching or link to a list of movies available on demand from Starz, Encore or MoviePlex without changing the channel.
Collectively, Starz, Encore and MoviePlex offer up to 350 standard-definition and 70 high-definition movies and original programs on demand.
Independent analyst Rob Enderle agreed cable operators have a serious problem as services such as Hulu.com and TV.com garner greater consumer acceptance of the notion of repurposed programming. He said industry efforts to simplify and bundle VOD with their cable offerings would give consumers the incentive not to downsize cable programming.
“People don’t like change and will often pay a premium, particularly if that is already something they are used to spending monthly so they don’t have learn a new way of doing things,” Enderle said. “This, therefore, reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk that offerings like Hulu are creating for the cable industry.”