DirecTv Inc. said last week that it will use one of its
nearly 50 pay-per-view channels to time-shift NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives seven
days per week.
Stephanie Campbell, senior vice president of programming
for DirecTv, was quick to say that the direct-broadcast satellite company is not likely to
devote channel capacity to time-shifting on a widespread basis, like Your Choice TV is
doing on digital-cable tiers.
DirecTv chose Days of Our Lives as its time-shifted
PPV offer because it has a huge following and the opportunity was right, Campbell said.
The fact that Campbell was a fan of the show years ago wasn't a factor, she added.
"Hats off to DirecTv for being the first one on the
DBS side to do this," said Barbara Sullivan, president of Denver-based B.G. Marketing
and a former DBS executive. Sullivan added that she was surprised that DirecTv didn't
start its time-shifting PPV service with "an upper-income yuppie show."
Although some observers suggested that time-shifting
popular nighttime hits like Seinfeld or ER might attract larger audiences to
PPV, making arrangements to time-shift those shows is more complicated because of the
difficulty in making deals with the studios that own them.
Campbell said that since daytime dramas typically don't go
into reruns and aren't sold into syndication, studios may be more apt to make them
available for time-shifting. Also, shows that the networks themselves own are better
candidates for time-shifting services.
Starting tonight (May 18), DirecTv will charge $1.49 per
episode for Days of Our Lives, or a flat monthly fee of $9.99. DirecTv will air
each episode from 8 p.m. that night until 6 a.m. the following morning, and it will show a
week's worth of programs on weekends.
There's still the question of whether subscribers will
actually pay extra to watch a show that they could tape free-of-charge. This offer will
help to determine if there is a demand for time-shifted product.
"I have a lot of friends who tape soap operas and who
aren't very happy when they've forgotten to set the VCR," Campbell said.
Sullivan added that there's an audience of people who are
willing to spend their discretionary income to support their soap-opera habits.
"Just look at the supermarket magazines catering to
those viewers," she said.
Attracting the female audience to time-shifted soap operas
could be a savvy way of introducing women to the ease of PPV, Sullivan said.
While DirecTv has run other PPV programming targeted
specifically toward women, Campbell said, "this is certainly the most visible deal
that we've done."
Diva Systems Corp., a video-on-demand service running on a
few cable systems, has also made time-shifting a central part of its plans.
"We'll never be pure video-on-demand," Campbell
said. "We know that it's incumbent upon us to come up with new ideas for PPV."
Sullivan said time-shifting wouldn't be practical for every
"It can't be Hogan's Heroes on Nick at
Nite," she added.