Ask the marketers at iN DEMAND about how best to solve for customer engagement and you get a treasure trove of examples.
On one side, iN DEMAND’s MVPD footprint has grown by 20% over the last five years to now serve more than 60 million digital households with transactional video entertainment. That’s 360,000 hours of content delivered each year.
“Working with MVPDs to set strategic goals focused on driving incremental revenues throughout the year and define new biz opportunities sets iN DEMAND apart,” Senior Vice President of Affiliate Marketing Lauren LoFrisco said. “At this point in time, in a highly competitive marketplace with the shifting tides around the video business, we are a welcome partner, which is fantastic.”
The volume of business iN DEMAND generates — more than 100 million transactions and nearly $1 billion in retail sales per year — gets the attention of content suppliers and movie studios, which leads to earlier MOD releases and more and better titles to promote, LoFrisco noted.
PRAISE FROM CABLEVISION
On the affiliate side of the equation, Tom Montemagno, Executive Vice President of Programming for Cablevision Systems, told Multichannel News: “iN DEMAND has been a great partner to Cablevision in facilitating the delivery and explosive growth of video on demand and PPV content to Optimum TV customers. In particular, they’ve been very helpful in licensing key high-profile, live PPV sports and event programming on our behalf, and have always kept Cablevision’s interests and concerns at the forefront when negotiating for the industry.”
The Movies On Demand business at iN DEMAND also involves a lot of marketing on demand.
“To further support their marketing, we look across what all of our partners and owners are doing and say, ‘What are they not doing? What do they not have the bandwidth or the people to do that could benefit them?’ ” chief creative officer Stacie Gray said.
“One of the things that we identified was the opportunity to do celebrity interviews to promote the movies — to shoot them, to edit them and then provide them to all of our affiliates for both social media and to use on the barker channels. We send them a steady stream of that promotional content now.”
Take, for example, celebrity interviews tied to movie releases. Affiliates have said that’s a valuable tool to drive MOD rentals and, by extension, important assets as electronic sell-through of movies emerges as a revenue opportunity.
iN DEMAND video teams, working via a successful media partnership with Indiewire, are on virtually every studio’s junket list and shoot exclusive interviews at major film festivals and star-studded events such as Comic-Con International. Jason Alexander was at iN DEMAND’s studio one day recently, promoting an upcoming indie film. Some interviews are banked and used months later, especially at the crucial award-season period when, for example, Patricia Arquette talking about Boyhood helps build buzz and drive sales.
“We also try to play a leadership role in bringing parties together around tent-pole marketing campaigns,” Gray said. “When we help to organize a marketing campaign, we do the creative and we bring the partners together. That benefits the studios, which have titles that are featured in the campaign, and it benefits the affiliates that are running the campaign with increased buys for the titles that are featured.”
In addition to distributing some 360,000 hours of content per year, iN DEMAND produces some 40,000 promotional video segments annually, many customized for affiliates.
That’s a lot more customized video than the studios would be able to accommodate for its pay-TV distributors, big and small. And much of it is content that even the biggest cable companies wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
The barker channels Gray mentioned are produced by iN DEMAND for Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications. Refreshed at least biweekly, those “promotainment” channels promote new movies and free on-demand content. They are powerful marketing tools, right at the point of sale, Gray said. The Cox and Bright House barkers are hosted by Camille Ford, whose interviews with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were so popular that HBO and Showtime even included them on the home page for their record-setting May 2 fight on Pay-Per-View.
iN DEMAND turns around marketing plans and executes on them quickly and efficiently for affiliates, Gray said. “There is really nothing that they can ask us or a deadline that they give us that we don’t meet. We pride ourselves on that. We’re like an in-house agency. So we get a lot of love from all of our clients.”
Knowing the role social media plays in promoting movies and events, iN DEMAND provides affiliates with monthly toolkits with tweets and posts they can slot into their calendars to support all the content coming out in the next few weeks.
The company’s benefit to its 220 studio partners is recognized by such executives as Dan Cohen, the Disney/ABC Domestic TV Executive Vice President of Pay TV and Interactive Media. His tenure in the industry dates back to Home Premiere Television, one of the precursor companies to iN DEMAND.
“iN DEMAND remains a vital part of the movie distribution landscape, a role it has served for 30 years now!” Cohen said. “The business has evolved greatly, from one or two PPV channels to today’s on-demand world. But throughout it all, iN DEMAND has played a key role in connecting our movies (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucas and DreamWorks) to consumers across the United States. It’s been a great partnership and one I expect will continue for years to come.”
Looking ahead, Gray and LoFrisco say they are excited by the newly emerging category of electronic sell-through of movies, which is expected to soon move beyond the pioneering efforts of Comcast to include other big and even mid size and smaller operators, with iN DEMAND’s aid on the acquisition, distribution and marketing fronts.
Gray said her next goal is to work closely with the company’s owners and affiliates on targeted loyalty programs, to reward movie lovers and steer more of their business toward cable and away from other platforms they also use.