'About' Previews on Showtime

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In conducting focus-group activities and in-home interviews, Showtime on Demand executives found that it was difficult for users to get a sense for what its series were about in that environment.

Some of the problems stemmed from the episodic descriptions of the shows, which didn't convey their sensibilities; the length of the identifiers, limited by metadata parameters; and the lack of genre labeling. Subscribers indicated that they would like to see an on-demand preview to help them decide about a series, and that background would make them more comfortable about jumping into one that they had not viewed in its first season.

In response, Showtime Networks Inc. executives, led by vice president of consumer research Marjorie Deninger, decided to develop the “About” previews: About The L Word, About Huffand About Fat Actress, among them.

Appearing before the season premiere, these previews familiarized subscribers with characters and plot points.

The network also created a section called “Explore SHO Series,” from which viewers could screen all the previews in one place.

Citing data from a focus group and MSO reports, Showtime said 60% of the customers who viewed About Fat Actress watched the series premiere on demand, with that installment ranking within Showtime on Demand's top 10 in March and the preview content in the top 25.

Also, About previews were watched all the way through by virtually everyone who selected them from Showtime on Demand.

For achieving generating awareness of new series, encouraging viewing either on-demand or on the linear network and providing watchers a chance to catch up on previous seasons, Showtime has earned first-place honors in the subscription category of the 2005 CTAM On Demand Case Study Competition.

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