New York -- Rainbow Media Group will launch four more video-on-demand
ventures featuring exclusive first-run content over the next 18 months.
Those ventures will premiere as the Cablevision Systems Corp. unit expands
distribution of its Mag Rack original niche-programming service and prepares for
the upcoming launch of its Independent Film Channel subscription-VOD
Rainbow CEO Josh Sapan revealed the news near the close of his
Wednesday-afternoon keynote address at the Kagan VOD Summit here. He didn't
elaborate on what kind of original content would appear on the developing
A few minutes earlier, Sapan challenged all cable-service programmers and
content providers to make the medium more content-exclusive compared with
direct-broadcast satellite, noting that DBS rides on the back of networks
originally developed for cable.
He called for the industry to realize a "35 in five" result: 35 percent of
all cable programming -- basic, premium, VOD, interactive, other forms to come
-- should be exclusive and proprietary to the medium by 2008.
On-demand content prepared for and exclusive to cable should be "an
important, urgent, solution" to differentiating the industry from DBS,
especially if both multichannel mediums adopt both VOD and
personal-video-recorder functionality, Sapan said.
There's a precedent for this in the development of basic-cable channels in
the 1980s and Internet material a decade later. Both mediums became mass when
original content, and not repurposed content, flourished.
"We need the eBay [Inc.], The Sopranos, the CNN [Cable News Network]
of VOD," he declared. "Hit shows and movies should be a major part of the VOD
mix. But we'll miss a big bet for viewership and usage if VOD is just recycled
programming. If VOD just offers what's already on, it becomes redundant."
Mag Rack, operating over the past 18 months on Cablevision's New York City
metro-area systems as part of its iO: Interactive Optimum digital package, now
accounts for 10 percent of VOD viewing there each month, added Matthew Strauss,
the venture's general manager.
Rainbow anticipates premiering IFC On Demand later this spring or this