In Demand Evolves With The Cable Business

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New York -- The cable industry is changing rapidly, so if follows that one of its key joint ventures, In Demand, has been shifting and tweaking its business and its infrastructure to help MSO affiliates stay on top of and ahead of service trends and new opportunities.

Changes in In Demand’s business was a big part of my keynote discussion with company president and CEO Bob Benya at last week’s Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable NYC Television Week.

One of the big changes underway at In Demand, the venture owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks, is a shift toward IP distribution in partnership with Clearleap.

While moving to a terrestrial IP infrastructure for video-on-demand (VOD) content will help In  Demand stay ahead of bandwidth demands (it will still use satellite delivery for pay-per-view movies and live events), the move will also set the stage for additional support of multiscreen video and the ability to rent or sell movies and other types of content to mobile devices. Competitively speaking, the coming debut of electronic sell-through capabilities will enable In Demand and its cable partners to match up with a competitive field that includes Amazon, VUDU, iTunes and relative newcomer M-GO.

The bottom line is that In Demand is making moves to ensure that its MSO partners are positioned to support video services not just on the set-top box, but also on a variety of connected, mobile platforms as customer behavior continues to shift.

Longer term, In Demand is also starting to explore how its platform could be used by business customers that get services from cable.  While that strategy is still very much still in the early, needs assessment stage, one idea under consideration is how to help cable operators tap In Demand’s infrastructure to deliver corporate training videos and other types of content that’s tailored for the commercial market.

But regular set-top VOD continues to be a focus as more rights are freed up and the advertising side of “free” on-demand becomes increasingly important. As those libraries expand and give cable customers another way to binge on TV series, Benya suggested that the C3 measurement  standard applied to VOD (C3 measures live viewing, DVR playback and VOD usage within three days of a show’s broadcast debut) will eventually need to expand to C7.

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