Technology

Starz Viewers Are Demanding

12/02/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

In one of the most comprehensive studies of subscription video on demand to date, Starz Entertainment Group found that two-thirds of Starz On Demand subscribers use it at least once a month, while another 20% were aware of the on-demand option but had yet to use the service.

“We were very pleased with the awareness numbers,” said Jerry Maglio, senior vice president of Starz, of the survey of 488 Starz subscribers in 10 Comcast Corp. markets, conducted in late September and early October. What’s more, respondents gave Starz On Demand a satisfaction score of 8.4, based on a scale from 1 to 10, just behind HBO on Demand’s 8.5 ranking.

The key takeaway for Starz, said Maglio: The network’s efforts to educate consumers about SVOD have come a long way, as 67% of Starz On Demand subscribers use the service regularly. But Starz plans to alter of its some messages to get the 33% of those don’t use the service to try it.

“We have to tweak the message,” he said.

In addition to 20% of non-users who were aware of the on-demand feature but didn’t use it, another 13% didn’t know it existed.

“It takes time to change people’s entrenched habits,” Maglio acknowledged.

Starz will launch marketing messages to reach both groups, Maglio said. The network has launched a separate feed of Starz for its VOD affiliates, with specific marketing messages for the subscription package. Those messages will become even more personable, Maglio said, with Starz hosts emphasizing the ease of use and no-cost feature of on demand.

“You can trust your host when he says there is no charge,” Maglio said. There will also be reminders to watch hit movies and emphasize the package’s “no-wait” feature.

Many Starz subscribers who were unaware of Starz On Demand were relatively new subscribers to the premium service. Key promos targeted to that group will encourage early SVOD trial, soon after new customers sign up, plus added emphasis at sell-in about what the on-demand feature means, Maglio said.

Those who didn’t use the service cited poor movie selection and movie quality. Those who did used it quite frequently: 26% use the service at least eight times a month, while 41% used the service between one and eight times each month. But heavy users watch movies in a variety of ways.

In addition to modifying its marketing messages, Starz has armed its sales force with study details, in an attempt to drive deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp., Maglio said.

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