Disney Net Goes SVOD on iO


Disney Channel has launched a new basic-cable-based, subscription video-on-demand service within Cablevision Systems Corp.'s iO: Interactive Optimum digital cable offering.

The network's SVOD service, featuring programming from the service's tween- and pre-school show blocks, sells for $4.95 per month.

Executives from both companies said they're confident the Disney brand will propel subscription sales.

The service will feature 20 hours a month of programming split equally between its tween-targeted primetime lineup of Lizzie McGuire, Kim Possible
and The Proud Family,
and its Playhouse Disney block of shows like Rolie Polie Olie
and The Book Of Pooh,
according to Disney senior vice president distribution strategies and operations Albert Cheng.

Half of the content would be refreshed monthly, he said. "At least 50 to 80% of the episodes offered on the SVOD platform is content that is not found on the network that month," he added.

Most standalone branded SVOD services consist of pay-TV programming, offering additional ease and convenience for programming that consumers are used to paying something extra for. Several basic networks — including Discovery Networks U.S., Comedy Central, BBC America, ESPN, Fox News Channel, Hallmark Channel, and Court TV — do offer product for various free and paid VOD packages.

Cheng said Disney feels that consumers, especially parents, will pay an additional fee for a programming service that's mostly available on basic, although Disney is offered as a pay service in a majority of Cablevision systems.

"The SVOD platform serves as a utility for parents and another alternative for the kids to view content in a closed and safe environment at their leisure," Cheng said. "It's an alternative to having a videotape."

He also said the service would allow parents of toddlers to have access to Playhouse Disney programming that they might not be able to see during the daytime hours, when the block is aired.

Cablevision vice president of digital product management Kristin Dolan said strong usage rates for iO's children's programming from its "Thirteen On Demand" free service — offering PBS programming from New York station WNET — demonstrates that kids shows have strong marquee appeal.

"We know there's an appetite for this product and we love the Disney brand," Dolan said.

Disney Channel joins Home Box Office, Showtime, Cinemax, Playboy Channel and Fox as premium-based subscription VOD services offered by Cablevision.

Dolan said 17% of the MSO's digital subscribers have opted for one or more SVOD services.

She also said the MSO is talking to several other distributors about launching brand-specific a-la-carte SVOD services. "We want to provide more choice for consumers to pick and choose what they want," she said. "We're not forcing everybody to take everything."

In other Cablevision-related SVOD news, the MSO last week dropped its movie-based Independent Films Channel SVOD service last week in lieu of IFC's fall launch of "Uncensored On Demand."

But Dolan said the MSO has yet to reach a carriage deal for the new version, which will which will offer exclusive content, ranging from movies to TV programs, that has been "literally or figuratively banned" from mainstream media.

"We're looking at that product as a possible edition in the fall," she said.