VOD Spotlight On in DEMAND’s Emilio NunezAugust 02, 2011
On Demand Weekly's VOD Spotlight highlights stories in the On Demand industry. Today we talk to one of the VOD industry's movers and shakers you probably haven't heard of before, Emilio Nunez, Senior Vice President, Movies & Original Programming for iN DEMAND - the biggest distributor of VOD and PPV content to cable. You're accustomed to ordering VOD / PPV from your cable provider, but it is iN DEMAND who does a lot of the work behind the scenes.
Emilio was recently promoted (and we just published our New Movies On Demand August Preview with info from iN DEMAND), so we wanted to learn what that entails and get an inside perspective on the VOD business.
On Demand Weekly (ODW):The press release announcing your promotion at iN DEMAND said that you are in charge of scheduling. With release dates dictated by studios and programming available on demand, what are you scheduling?
Emilio Nunez (EN): Traditionally, you think of scheduling the way a broadcast channel or linear cable network would put together their schedule, with a 6PM or 8PM show. But with Movies On Demand (MOD) on cable (or any VOD content), viewers make their choices of start times. Still, we have to make choices regarding what movies we deliver to our affiliates.
As the industry’s leading distributor of movies to cable and telcos, iN DEMAND deals with every major Hollywood studio and more than 50 Indie suppliers. Every month we are offered more content than we can use. Besides building different schedules for different operators, each one has capacity requirements and a specific type of user interface. So we have to optimize their VOD offering given their unique parameters. If a system can only hold so many titles, every month we make some tough choices and decide which films make the schedule and which ones do not. We base this on box office performance, how early the window is, talent or awards, or if something might fit into a grouping of films in a folder that is being promoted that month.
Through ongoing negotiations with suppliers, we build in incentives for these companies to give us content as early as we can get it. Viewers have been the beneficiaries of this. We’ve been very successful in moving up the VOD window so now “day & date” with home video (DVD) is the norm and in many cases we are getting movies earlier than home video. Some indie studios give MOD titles before or the same day they are in theatres. The number of day & date titles available to cable viewers doubled from 2009 to 2010.
Every month, in addition to the new release schedule, we create a stunt schedule made up of library titles within folders in order to showcase movies that a customer might not find otherwise. Viewers will find a wealth of titles in these folders on their systems and I recommend that they go and explore what’s available. These stunts can be around holidays, a “tent pole” feature film that is being released, a celebrity’s birthday, death, or other creative categories. It works like a recommendation engine. If you go to a category, and you like movie X, then you might also like the other movies in that folder.
iN DEMAND also distributes other high-profile content besides movies. We program live Pay-Per-View sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts events and the digital out-of-market subscription professional sports packages for MLB, the NBA, the NHL and MLS. Plus, we are the exclusive TV home of Howard Stern via Howard TV On Demand.
ODW: What new content will you acquire that will be made available on demand that is different than the current content?
EN: We’ve been looking a lot more at short-form content, which works for VOD because it doesn’t have to fit a specific format to allow for commercials. We have also become aggressive in the 3D space and are working to build a substantial 3D VOD library. In addition to a number of Hollywood Films offered in 3D, we are developing original programming.
ODW: What type of original programming do you plan on developing?
EN: Right now we have an original series in production called IN DEEP, an action and interview show that focuses on unique sports or events that that really pop in 3D. We just shot the Kentucky Derby show and are about to shoot a piece on the final NASA launch for the series. Not all systems show this content yet, but we are working to increase distribution. (Editor’s Note: This interview took place before NASA LAST LAUNCH production and being available on demand in July).
NASA LAST LAUNCH (in DEMAND)
ODW: Can you tell us more about Vutopia and where can consumers access it?
EN: Vutopia is a subscription video on demand service launched as a joint effort by iN DEMAND, Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. This is still a new service and not yet available everywhere. The service offers subscribers access to hundreds of studio and independent movies through their cable box as well as online for a flat monthly fee. Most of the time, Vutopia is included as part of a larger offering with other movie services. In Vutopia, we make the search for titles a lot of fun with whimsical categories based on mood or genre. Movies, range from classics to recent blockbusters and many titles are available in HD.
Cox subscribers can get the service by signing up for their Movie Pak offering or going online. Time Warner offers Vutopia as part of their Movie Pass bundle and Comcast provides the service to select subscribers in a VOD folder called Preferred Collection or online.
We regularly add new titles to the service and are currently negotiating new title packages with a wide variety of suppliers.
ODW: What is some of the tent pole programming offered under Free On Demand, consumers may not be aware of?
EN: There is a wealth of free On Demand content geared towards children, families, as well as special interest content offered by cable and telco providers. Viewers should explore their On Demand menus. They’ll find everything from delayed showings of popular cable series, to Exercise TV that focuses on physical activity and ‘Sportskool’ with instruction from accomplished athletes, or public service initiatives.
ODW: TV and Film fans can gauge the success of theatrical films via Box Office reports and TV via Nielsen. How can the success of On Demand programming be measured?
EN: There are several options available for On Demand programming viewer measurement and research. As a digitally delivered media, On Demand can be tracked directly when programs are selected, providing timely and accurate data. The most prominent company in the on demand measurement space, Rentrak, provides a comprehensive report of data across several metrics. Rentrak’s method of reporting is different than Nielsen, which uses a sample to estimate national viewing habits of 115 million U.S. households. This method was suitable for linear television when viewing was done on a schedule, but to fully capture the scattered views of On Demand Rentrak’s granular reporting was needed.
Through these comprehensive reports we are able to better understand viewing habits and make better programming choices that serve our audience. For example, Rentrak allowed us to see that Thursday nights at 9pm are the most popular nights for on demand viewing during the week.
So the next time you order something on VOD or PPV and wonder how it gets to your home, think of Emilio and the folks at iN DEMAND.
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