In Demand Nets South Park for VOD

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In its first significant content deal for its video-on-demand offering, In Demand has reached an agreement with Comedy Central to distribute the network's popular South Park series via VOD.

In Demand will offer 25 episodes of the adult animated South Park as part of its VOD service, which it is currently testing in several systems.

The deal is the first VOD-output agreement for the cable network and the first of its kind involving a marquee cable property. South Park remains one of cable's most highly rated shows, although it has lost some of its ratings steam over the past few seasons.

"We see it as an opportunity to develop some incremental revenue and a way for us to be a part of the digital-box and VOD environment," Comedy senior vice president of affiliate sales Brad Samuels said.

"South Park is an extremely attractive content offering due to its loyal fan base," In Demand vice president of programming, development and event acquisition Dan York said.

"We expect it to be a popular VOD offering for consumers, and we're pleased to work in partnership with Comedy Central to deliver some of cable's best programming to the industry on a transactional basis," York added.

Neither In Demand nor Comedy would speculate on how much the episodes would cost consumers through VOD.

Samuels did say that the In Demand deal is nonexclusive, and the network will look to talk with other companies about distribution deals. "We want to get [South Park] to any operators that are interested in it," he added.

In Demand and Comedy will also test several foreign-language versions of the show in an effort to reach minority groups, according to Samuels.

South Park episodes could be a major draw for In Demand because of their popularity among young adults, who are primary users of pay-per-view and transactional services. "The show appeals to the heart of the PPV demo that has a heavy loyalty to the series," Samuels said. "Hopefully, we can be a leader in this area."

Also, the show has had some home-video-rental success, which Samuels believes portends well for a successful VOD run.

In addition, In Demand and Comedy are in discussions to offer more series from the network for VOD purchase, although neither side would reveal specific details.

Samuels also said the network is exploring PPV opportunities beyond VOD with some of its programming. "We'd like to come up with something featuring some of our franchise shows that we can make available to all viewers on a PPV basis," he added.