After suffering from a decades-long identity crisis,
pay-per-view service on cable will finally be branded under one name -- In Demand --
starting in January.
The move will, for the first time, give the PPV industry
some uniformity, as all Viewer's Choice affiliates will adopt the In Demand name for
their analog and digital PPV operations, Viewer's Choice executives said.
"Our new name reflects our ability to satisfy consumer
demand for great entertainment, sports and event programming, and it will establish the
home as the next great entertainment destination," Viewer's Choice president
Mindy Herman said.
All Viewer's Choice-affiliated systems are expected to
adapt the new name despite several MSOs already having their own PPV brands in place.
Not only will the In Demand brand take the place of the
current Viewer's Choice name, but executives believe the phrase will eventually
replace the term "pay-per-view."
"We've been stuck with a category name that is
detrimental to people feeling good about the category," MediaOne Group Inc. senior
vice president of video Judi Allen said. "We'll use the name PPV in transition,
but eventually, we'll phase in the In Demand brand for the industry."
Many MSO executives said they were waiting for more
information from Viewer's Choice before making plans to eliminate their current PPV
"I don't know if any decisions have been made yet
as to when we'll phase out our [PPV brand]," one MSO PPV executive said.
But most operators were ecstatic about the move --
particularly the network's MSO owners: AT&T Broadband & Internet Services,
Time Warner Entertainment, Comcast Programming Ventures Inc., MediaOne and Cox
Communications Holdings Inc.
After years of operating under various company names --
which has often led to consumer confusion about PPV -- the industry can now focus on
promoting one brand to consumers.
Also, with the rapid rollout of digital technology and
near-video-on-demand services, executives believe the new name represents PPV's
progression from analog to a more enhanced and potentially more lucrative product.
PPV revenue -- which topped the $1.3 billion mark last
year, according to Showtime Event Television -- is expected to surpass $2.5 billion by
2003, Paul Kagan Associates Inc. estimates.
"The move accurately reflects the change in the
technology and the business," Prime Cable director of marketing Pam Burton said.
"It's long overdue."
"We're supportive of it," Time Warner Cable
vice president of communications Mike Luftman said. "The original Viewer's
Choice move was associated with traditional pay-per-view, but now is the time to
reidentify ourselves to adapt to the new technology."
"There's been kind of a malaise around the
industry, but this is an effort to try to reinvigorate the category," Cox
Communications Inc. director of product development Lynne Elander said. "The name
reinforces the technology, as well as product you can't get anywhere else."
Studios and event distributors were more cautious in their
praise of the brand positioning, but most praised Viewer's Choice.
"We applaud Viewer's Choice's efforts in
developing a branding strategy, which will hopefully enhance the awareness of PPV as a
medium in the consumer household," TVKO senior vice president Mark Taffet said.
Despite a move among many studios to develop their own
national brand for PPV movies, studio executives said both branding efforts can work
together to help build the industry.
"It shows that we're getting very serious about
building the business," Universal PPV Entertainment vice president of pay TV Holly
"The studios are optimistic and interested in what
we're doing; they have the same agenda in elevating the business," Viewer's
Choice senior vice president of marketing and brand director Gavin Harvey said.
"There may have to be some compromises, but I'm confident that we'll find
some common ground, and we look forward to working with them."
With a national PPV brand, Herman said, the industry will
be able to maximize marketing, promotional and sponsorship opportunities that were
unattainable in the current environment.
"It definitely allows you to do DMA and national
advertising that we haven't been able to do before," she added. "Now that
you have a strong foundation, you can really do some interesting things on a marketing
Viewer's Choice is also hopeful that the name will
catch on with consumers, so that operators can more effectively market PPV and provide
more awareness of the industry's entertainment value.
"The foundation of any smart brand is how it relates
to the target audience," Harvey said. "Our viewers are fans of entertainment, so
In Demand fits perfectly with what viewers want to view."
"The positioning of the brand is intended to highlight
the product we're offering," Herman added. "We're making a statement
that PPV is the place to go for the absolute best in programming on television."
Executives said the timing of the change fits well with the
fast-paced rollout of digital compression and NVOD and the beginning of the new millenium.
"Timing is important because we want to make sure the
brand is rolled out effectively and give the industry enough time for
implementation," Viewer's Choice senior vice president of video promotion Leigh
The change will be supported by a massive marketing and
promotional campaign, which will begin next month with teaser spots. Viewer's Choice
will deliver the In Demand launch kit to affiliates in November.
"Establishing a strong proprietary cable brand for PPV
will surely go a long way toward helping us to jump-start this category and to deliver,
finally, the promise of PPV," Allen said.
"We're extremely confident that Viewer's
Choice is doing the right thing, and that the introduction of In Demand, coupled with the
experiment of digital cable, will provide much needed lift to the category," she