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Helping Operators Take Care of Business

iN DEMAND Gets Affiliates Ready for Era of EST 6/15/2015 8:00 AM Eastern

Before there was Comcast launching the Xfinity TV Store in November 2013, going head to head with Apple’s iTunes, Amazon.com and others in electronic sales of movies and TV series, there was iN DEMAND doing advance work in securing sales rights for Comcast and its other owners and affiliates.

 

Now, it’s expected that electronic sell-through (EST) will be a business that most if not all cable and satellite- TV providers will be moving into soon.

 

That’s a familiar role for iN DEMAND — enabling and enhancing key cable-operator initiatives.

 

Whether it was acquiring 3DTV content when that was a competitive imperative, or creating high-definition channels (and vastly increasing HD movie and sports content), iN DEMAND takes pride in being ready when or even before its partners are.

 

The same will hold true when operators and subscribers are ready en masse for 4K/Ultra HD, executives at the content licensing and distribution company say.

 

ANTICIPATING THE FUTURE

 

“We need to anticipate where the industry is going,” Michael Berman, Executive Vice President of Programming and General Counsel, said.

 

Some deals go back years, long before over-the-top or 3D or EST rights were envisioned. So “we keep going back to the same people” and negotiating for the next new things, he said.

 

Rights won for early-release “windows” for Movies On Demand have been vital to establishing that category — for independent films, as well as for the blockbusters that are any movie provider’s stock in trade.

 

Studios such as IFC Films and Magnolia Pictures embraced MOD early on, launching new titles on demand the same day they premiere in theaters and giving MOD a head start over DVD-rental retailers such as Netflix and Redbox.

 

“Although that’s been going on for a long time, we have spent the last five years focusing on how to make that a better service for consumers,” Emilio Nunez, Senior Vice President, Movies & Original Programming, said.

 

Not only studios, but stars such as Nicolas Cage (who had an MOD hit in Rage last year) and John Travolta (who stars in a currently playing day-and-date release, The Forger) are embracing the concept, Nunez said. He also cited The Calling, with Susan Sarandon, and Snowpiercer as recent successes.

 

iN DEMAND has also been building a deeper catalog of library titles — and figuring out clever ways to organize and promote them. Stunts drive peak sales periods around Halloween (horror titles), the December holidays and during awards season from December to February.

 

Stunts and library collections are a year-round affair now for iN DEMAND. When the new James Bond release comes around (Skyfall being the latest), a “massive Bond offering” is there for subscribers to peruse and purchase from, as Nunez noted. Or when the latest edition of The Avengers comes out, the superhero folder gets packed with Batman films and Marvel titles. Nunez said stunts now are put together every month, involving about 1,000 movies. “Comcast was an early adopter,” he said, “but now all of our affiliates are starting to take an interest.”

 

And then there is the Pay-Per-View event business, which is “alive and thriving,” per Mark Boccardi, Senior Vice President of Programming and Business Development.

 

PPV: STILL ALIVE AND WELL

 

Boxing is cyclical and has been driven by stars such as Mike Tyson or Oscar De La Hoya or, most recently, Floyd Mayweather. Thanks to Mayweather, four of the top 10 boxing PPV events ever have come within the last five years, topped off by the May 2 Mayweather victory over Manny Pacquiao.

 

Other categories have emerged to “spike the needle,” too, he said. Lewis Black and Steve Harvey live-comedy shows “far exceeded our expectations.”

 

Concerts have performed well, too, given the right occasion. The Rolling Stones Live: One More Shot in December 2012 is the best recent example. The upcoming five Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead 50th-anniversary concert package could be another milestone.

 

Beyond movies, iN DEMAND has been building businesses in more specialized categories such as action sports, comedy, concerts, kids’ movies and the newly emerging Education On Demand category. “Education is going to be a big new initiative,” Boccardi predicted.

 

Matt Cacciato, the co-founder of American ED TV, said he loves the support. iN DEMAND’s bringing established lifelong learning content such as The Great Courses to its offering is the start of the aggregation and curation process for the genre. On Demand will finally deliver a modern platform for education to showcase all its programming power in both free and pay selections — with very important education programming that’s entertaining, informative and inspiring.”

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