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Cable Operators

Cox Adds TVN as On-Demand Vendor

5/01/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

TVN Entertainment Corp. announced an affiliation agreement with Cox Communications Inc. today that adds another MSO to TVN's stable and gives Cox a second-source supplier for its expanding video-on-demand lineup.

TVN plans to provide Cox with a variety of content, including basic-network and specialty content. In Demand LLC remains Cox's supplier for movie content.

“TVN gets us the flexibility of having another way to get content and gives us access to some content [for which] they are the only distributor,” said Joe Rooney, senior vice president of marketing for Cox. “It helps us broaden our VOD offering as we get into subscription VOD and basic on demand.”

The management tools also appealed to Cox. “They make it easy. As we get into VOD, we want it to be easy for our systems and engineers and marketers. There is flexibility with their content management system,” Rooney said. He noted that TVN's playlist allows consumers to program their own music video favorites from the on-demand menu.

Cox uses In Demand for movie transport, and it has launched premium subscription VOD from Home Box Office, Cinemax and Starz! in a number of markets.

But the MSO's recent deals with the National Football League, WWE 24/7, Anime and Here! caused Cox to look at its transport options. TVN carries all of those services plus other content from networks that Cox is considering for its free on-demand programming slate. WWE, Anime and Here! will be offered as SVOD packages. “The real wrestling fan, the fanatic — they really want the deeper dive on the content, and they are willing to open their wallet to get it, as they do with [pay-per-view] events,” Rooney said.

NFL will help anchor the free-on-demand package, said Bob Nocera, Cox marketing director of advanced services, and Cox is looking at other FOD content, including children's programming. “It's the first of several brands we're looking at.”

“We're making sure we get the content strategy correct,” he added. “Frankly, it's going to vary slightly by market. We want to be able to address the diverse entertainment desires of Cox customers.”

Jim Riley, executive vice president of TVN, said the updated version of its asset management system, ADONISS, will help MSOs like Cox as VOD grows more complex.

“ADONISS will allow for the flexibility to manage local VOD content and the myriad of national packages,” he said.

Today, local content is encoded in a data file with locally produced metadata that can't be shared with other systems. The new version of ADONISS will allow MSOs to share that content across their entire national network.

A local sports, news or political event that has national appeal can be prepared locally, but used throughout the MSO, Riley said. The same is true for ads or long-form infomercials, which can be prepared locally, but shared on a regional or national basis.

TVN also is seeing increasing use for its TVNow software, which provides quick turnaround of time-sensitive content. “We have systems in place that can manage metadata to sites that need to receive it,” Riley said.

For instance, certain NFL packages are only available in certain regions of the country. TVN's software allows the NFL to send the right content to the right system. “There are also nuances as to how the guide uses metadata,” Riley added. “We deliver to every single guide/server combination.”

TVN's basic transmission lineup includes Discovery Networks, Cable News Network, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, ESPN, C-SPAN, ABC Family, A&E Network, The History Channel, The Biography Channel, Independent Film Channel, FX, The Golf Channel, E! Entertainment Television, G4, Home & Garden TV, Fine Living, Food Network, Do It Yourself, SoapNet, Hallmark Channel, Sundance Channel, Music Choice, Wisdom, Speed Channel, Wealth TV, Fuse, National Geographic Channel, Atom Films, Eurocinema, Here!, Hollywood Media, MagRack, Sportskool, TV Guide Channel, World Picks On Demand, WWE 24/7, Anime, Expo TV and Varsity TV.

The company has assembled other content under a “specialty” banner, including “urbanXtra,” “Accesso,” and kids, music and events programming.

TVN uplinks HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, The Movie Channel and Starz On Demand, plus several adult networks.

TVN also has carriage deals with Dreamworks SKG, Fox, Lions Gate, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Inc., New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures, plus transmission deals with The Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros., which license directly to cable operators.

TVN provides VOD content to Adelphia Communications Corp., Bresnan Communications, Buckeye Cablevision, Blue Ridge Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Insight Communications Co. and Mediacom.

It also has more than a dozen telco deals, including planned rollouts with Verizon, Century Tel, Champaign, Hargray, Ringgold and Sprint, plus lab trials with SBC and BellSouth.

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