FiOS Fishes for Showtime Buys

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New York — Showtime Networks
and Verizon Communications
are betting that video
sampling — combined with a
click-to-order button — will
convert otherwise hesitant subscribers
into impulse shoppers.

The telco has deployed an interactive-
TV app that lets FiOS
TV subscribers sample full episodes
from Showtime’s original
series and then subscribe with
a few clicks of the remote.

Verizon last week rolled out
the Showtime preview application
to its more than 3.2 million
FiOS TV subscribers nationwide.
The app pops up when
non-Showtime subscribers
tune to any of the premium programmer’s
channels, whereas
previously the guide showed a
static message prompting them
to press “OK” to subscribe.

It’s far simpler for customers
to subscribe using the remote
than it is for them to call their
operator to order Showtime,
David Preisman, the programmer’s
vice president of interactive
TV, said. “What we’re trying
to really do is change the
way people buy Showtime,” he
added.

Currently FiOS TV customers
can watch free episodes of
original series, including Dexter,
Weeds and The Big C, plus
get info on Showtime’s sports
programming and movies.

Time Warner Cable’s Oceanic
division in Hawaii off ers
a similar Showtime preview
application, delivered through
the ActiveVideo Networks platform.
More than 30% of Showtime’s
upgrades on TWC Oceanic
now come in through the
interactive TV app, according
to Preisman.

Dish Network has a promotional
Showtime ITV app that
runs on OpenTV’s middleware,
but it doesn’t provide episode
sampling.

With the FiOS app, once
a subscriber clicks to order
the $15.99 per month movie
package — which includes 47
Showtime and Starz channels
— the transaction is processed
in real time. “Our plans are to
keep it on the system as long
as possible,” Rachelle Zoffer,
Verizon’s director of content
strategy and acquisition for
FiOS TV, said. The telco expects
to promote the app with
cross-channel spots and other
marketing.

Showtime and Verizon collaboratively
developed the
app, which is written in Lua,
an embeddable open-source
scripting language that forms
the foundation for the FiOS TV
“widget” platform.

At the 2009 Cable Show,
Showtime demonstrated an
Enhanced TV Binary Interchange
Format version of the
application, but that has not
been deployed by any affiliates
to date.

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