No such thing as Free VOD

I’m sure that’s a bit of an overstatement, but in the case of this deal noted on Cnet with Cox and Disney, it’s very true.

Apparently Disney has offered some key prime-time shows to Cox for their on-demand service in exchange for Cox to deactivate the fast forward function on their cable boxes. Additionally, Cox and Disney will be testing some even newer technology to insert advertisements based on the user’s location. I was under the impression that since we have a cable box installed at home and it’s addressable by the head end, that the cable company (which are run regionally) already know where we are.

I’m all for free premium content in the on-demand environment, but the only thing this is going to do is get people to pony up the extra few bucks to upgrade to a DVR box instead of a standard cable box. From the article, Cox states they believe people will want this since it does not require an advanced planning action as you would have to do with a DVR. As we all know setting up a recording on a DVR is both time consuming and hard… not!

As I’ve thought about this further, I can only see consumer frustration brewing ahead. If you already know that your on-demand system supports fast forward, rewind and pause, and then suddenly it’s “broken” at the time an ad pops up, people will end up having a negative reaction and impression — of both Cox and the advertiser.

There’s an easy fix to this and it’s already been done on live network television… start and end a program with a paid sponsorship so that the advertiser enables the positive experience of watching a then commercial free show. The network has already made their money anyway. The number of people using this type of service will be value-add impressions anyway since there’s no way to guarantee viewers up front. If successful as a test, there’s always the next flight of programming to sell in special opportunities for sponsorship.

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