Cable Operators

Comcast, Time Warner Hit TV Guide Spot

3/27/2005 4:00 PM Eastern

Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable are launching a new video-on-demand channel from Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. in May that will show short clips from popular TV shows, music videos and highlights from on-demand movies.

TV Guide Spot will start with 14 million digital Comcast and Time Warner subscribers, general manager Stacy Jolna said. Gemstar-TV Guide secured distribution through broad deals cut with the MSOs for its interactive program guide last year.

Each VOD clip from TV Guide Spot will run for three to four minutes. Content includes “Catch Up” clips, which update viewers on programs they might have missed, and “Watch this!” videos that showcase series premieres and special episodes.

TV Guide also cut a deal with TiVo Inc. to download the content to digital-video recorders owned by about 1 million of its customers. The programming will also reside on TV Guide Online (www.tvguide.com).

Jolna, a former TiVo executive, said Gemstar is talking with mobile-phone carriers such as Verizon Wireless about supplying TV Guide Spot clips to subscribers.

Gemstar is also developing technology that could let mobile-phone users program DVRs to record programs marketed through TV Guide Spot, Jolna said.

Comcast and Time Warner plan to distribute TV Guide Spot via their free on-demand platforms.

Jolna said TV Guide Spot will run traditional ad spots, plus billboard ads and plugs for certain shows from an on-air studio host. But he insisted that the channel won’t accept money from advertisers in exchange for being included in Catch Up or Watch this!.

TV Guide Spot might also air clips from some long-form programs on the linear TV Guide Channel.

For more on TV Guide Spot, please see Steve Donohue’s story on page three of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

September