CTAM Summit: VOD Marketing Tactics Are Reaching ‘Nevers’: Execs

Co-Op Efforts With Retailers, Restaurants Are Paying Off

Orlando -- To draw in TV viewers who don’t buy movies on-demand, cooperative marketing efforts by operators and studios are extending into Walgreens, Target and even onto Pizza Hut box tops, with some success, marketing executives said Monday.

“Once you get people over the barrier of trying, they’re in and are satisfied with the product,” Stacy Gray, chief creative officer at In Demand, the cable-owned VOD distributor, said during a breakfast panel at the CTAM Summit here.

Eight cable operators and 10 movie studios in a consortium supported by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing have been working for about three years on a Movies On Demand on cable campaign. It began mostly with on-air messaging (and, crucially, the creation of a national MOD logo) but has extended into new marketing avenues that wouldn’t have been possible without the national reach the consortium enabled, Gray said.

Hence the Pizza Hut connection, which will see MOD titles promoted on 7 million Pizza Hut boxes in the fourth quarter, she said. “It’s a natural fit, pizza and a movie,” Gray said.

Stacy Melle, vice president of marketing at NBCUniversal Content Distribution, secured some Walgreens and Target shoppers through another natural fit: the movie Bridesmaids, girls’ night-in parties and Yellow Tail wine.

A promotion had Yellow Tail hang a Bridesmaids label on the bottle’s neck, inviting buyers to download recipes for Yellow Tail-based cocktails (or “winetails”), she said. 

“It was really a great marriage of two brands,” Melle said. “It extends our message into an environment that is unexpected,” she added.

Operator efforts to bring in VOD “nevers” include an experiment by Rogers Cable in Canada that lets viewers buy a bundle of three episodes of a premium series, say from season one of Californication, for $3.99 or more recent shows for $4.99, senior director of sports and on-demand services Anthony Antonelli said. Rogers has about 20 series in that program now, rising to a hoped-for 150 by early next year, he said.

Giving viewers a chance to buy “catch-up” episodes at that price point could be a chance to bring “lapsed” VOD buyers, Antonelli said.

Mediacom Communications marketing senior vice president David McNaughton said operators need to keep innovating on VOD because it’s a differentiator with satellite TV. Beyond the transactional revenue that can be earned from movie buys, use of free VOD can keep cable subscribers from churning, he said.

To get viewers to sample more free-VOD views of Fox broadcast hits like New Girl and Glee, Fox Networks has tried offering select episodes introduced by cast members, featuring behind-scenes commentary, senior vice president of distribution marketing Jamia Bigalow said. Fox also bought digital billboards in Los Angeles and elsewhere to promote VOD views around the time of the fall premieres, she said.

Another successful MOD tactic has been when Universal promoted movies available 28 days before Redbox and Netflix premieres, Melle said. There is evidence that tactic has increased buy rates, she said, and she recommended other studios deploy that windowing and marketing tactic. The breakfast session, which also featured a keynote interview with UFC president Dana White, was put on by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.