Comcast Trumpets 'Rome’

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Comcast Corp. plans to launch its most ambitious video-on-demand promotion to date in August, a cross-platform, cross-network play built around Home Box Office series Rome, which starts its linear run Aug. 28.

Prior to that premiere, Rome content will show up on Comcast’s VOD platform. But the MSO also has asked other programmers what related fare they have in their libraries that would work on VOD. “We asked all programmers to look around for Rome-related programming,” said Page Thompson, Comcast vice president of national marketing for new video products. “The History Channel has a number of shows on Rome.”

That “other network” tie-in will be combined with Rome-related broadband content on Comcast Online, all promoted through various marketing vehicles.

“It’s the most ambitious push we’ve done for VOD,” said Thompson.

HBO is supplying background material on its new series, which will debut on VOD throughout August. In addition, Rome episodes will appear on VOD soon after their linear airings, and the third episode will actually premiere on VOD, six days before its linear debut.

A bevy of Rome material also will appear on Comcast.net. High-speed subscribers will be able to take a 360-degree virtual tour of the Rome set. Comcast.net is creating a “Rome Fan,” a smaller version Comcast.net’s main “The Fan” video wheel, where Rome content will be stored.

The online site also will feature sweepstakes competition, Rome chat rooms, special screensavers, wallpaper and e-cards, an episode guide, cast and crew biographies, and photo galleries.

To highlight the promotion, Comcast is preparing an eight-page insert in 100,000 copies of TV Guide that will feature Rome content.

The series also will be highlighted on Comcast’s VOD barker video window, which typically produces a strong uptick in usage. “The barker will have a heavy Rome theme,” Thompson said.

Twice a month, Comcast sends out emails to 1.9 million registered homes, detailing VOD highlights. Those emails will showcase the Rome content and link back to Comcast.net’s Rome-related material.

“This shows how Comcast can bring on demand and online together to provide additional content,” said Thompson.

Premium networks are among the most popular in terms of VOD usage, and Thompson hopes the tie-in with networks like The History Channel will help raise awareness for VOD’s other content fare.

The Rome promotion also will extend to direct mail pieces and billstuffers, he said.

But this effort isn’t the only major initiative coming from Comcast’s on-demand group this summer. Sports has been another area of focus, Thompson said, especially nonlinear content.

The MSO carried daily, 15-minute summaries of the Tour de France on the VOD menu. National Basketball Association and X Games highlights were also featured this summer.

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