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Cable Show 2012: Is VOD Advertising 'Not a Dream Anymore'?

5/23/2012 7:58 PM

Boston — Cable’s years of offering free VOD without generating any serious ad dollars may be coming to an end.

Comcast has deployed BlackArrow’s system for dynamic ad-insertion on VOD — including midroll ads — across more than 90% of its footprint, and now Time Warner Cable is about to get into the mix (see Time Warner Cable To Light Up Dynamic VOD Ads Nationwide With BlackArrow).

“The promise of VOD advertising, it’s not a dream anymore,” BlackArrow CEO Dean Denhart said. “You have the two biggest cable operators publicly committing to VOD. We believe the programmers will come on board really quickly.”

Also worth noting: The slimmed-down Canoe Ventures, owned by the five biggest cable operators, is now focused entirely on facilitating VOD ad sales on a national basis.

Of course, negotiating content distribution deals is not necessarily a lickety-split process.

Denhart acknowledged that the parties are having to modify carriage agreements, to spell out the ad-inventory split (between the MSO and the programmer) and other rules, such as when or whether to disable fast-forward for ads. MSOs are getting as much as 20% of the ad inventory on VOD content, or as little as nothing, he added.

In any case, Denhart claimed the technology is ready to roll, when deals go into effect and VOD ads start getting sold in volume. Between Comcast and Rogers Communications, BlackArrow’s system does lookups on 12 million to 15 million VOD session starts per day, to check to see if an ad needs to be retrieved and inserted into the stream.

Very few of those VOD sessions do get served an ad dynamically today, Denhart said — but his point is that there are millions of ad opportunities waiting to be tapped.

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