Rainbow Hopes 'World Picks' Clicks With MSOs


Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. is introducing four new foreign-language on-demand services and a suite of digital international services.

Grouped as "World Picks," the services are positioned to help operators better serve diverse ethnic communities, according to Cynthia Burnell, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for Rainbow's IFC Cos.

Four World Picks On Demand subscription video-on-demand services — Hindi On Demand, Latino On Demand, Mandarin On Demand and Russian On Demand — each offer 20 hours of international programming a month, including movies, music performances, series, religious and spiritual programs, children's shows, documentaries and language instruction.

Content is 100% refreshed every 30 days.

Burnell said Rainbow consulted cultural advisory teams and conducted extensive research about what viewers would want. Latinos On Demand will feature a bevy of telenovelas, or Spanish-language soap operas, while Russian On Demand will offer a glut of talk shows and English-language instructional programs.

The World Picks Networks include 13 foreign-language linear channels imported from various countries, including Maria Vision (Mexico); Canal (a) (Argentina); Zona Latina (Chile); CCTV-4 (China); Mee TV (India); and Romanian TV (Romania).

"It's not about an American version of what's going on in those countries," said Greg Hill, IFC and Mag Rack executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing. "We're taking the networks as they exist in those countries and bringing them here."

Burnell said census statistics indicate more than 45 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English with friends and family. Cable operators have had a tough time drilling into those ethnic communities with English-only programming.

Rainbow parent Cablevision Systems Corp. is currently offering Latino, Russian and Hindi on-demand services in several markets, but Burnell would not be more specific.

Hill said Rainbow officials have met with MSOs about targeted carriage. He would not reveal deal points, but said operators can pick and choose networks they want for particular systems.

"We have access now to research that we didn't have a few years ago where we can break out within zip codes neighborhoods to find out where people live and who they are," Hill said. "We can then market directly to them with direct mail, in local newspapers, community groups and churches."

The revenue split would be 50-50 on SVOD sales, with retail rates to be negotiated system by system or MSO by MSO.

Hill said Rainbow has "an open mind" as to how the World Picks Networks should be packaged, again declining to discuss rate-card specifics.