U.S. TV networks tout video on-demand for catch-up viewing
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The morning after a new episode of the drama "Sleepy Hollow" airs on the Fox broadcast network, a message on the show's Facebook page encourages viewers to catch up with the show by clicking on their cable operator's video on demand service.
Fox and other networks are firing up marketing efforts to steer audiences who miss live episodes to free on-demand viewing. As the new television season gets underway, they are putting promotional spots for video on demand, or VOD, in prime time, on their web pages, and on social media.
For network executives, VOD is part of their strategy to compete in an ever-more crowded entertainment landscape, where live TV viewing is on the decline and streaming services like Netflix Inc are gaining in popularity.
VOD - which now reaches 60 percent of U.S. television homes through set-top boxes, according to a Nielsen report released last month - helps build audiences for new and returning TV series. It gives networks a shot at attracting an extra chunk of viewers to shows they did not record or had not heard about.
"To get people to remember the day and time a show airs, it's really challenging," said Michelle Garry, senior vice president of multi-platform marketing for the Fox network. "If people miss the show during its live airing, we still want to give them an opportunity to sample it."
VOD also provides a fresh revenue stream for networks. Unlike viewers using digital video recorders, those watching shows on video or demand often can't fast forward through commercials. Research firm Rentrak estimates the VOD ad market totals about $1 billion year. Total TV ad revenue reached $62.5 billion in 2012, according to media buying firm MagnaGlobal.
The VOD push coincides with the arrival of technology that allows networks to insert new commercials into shows viewed on VOD more than three days after their initial airing.
Traditionally advertisers pay when viewers watch their messages live on television or within three days on a DVR, a measurement called C3. On-demand viewing within three days counts toward that total if the same ads appear. Continued...