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Cable Operators

Gemstar Sets VOD Net

3/27/2005 7:00 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 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, like Survivoron CBS or Fox’s 24 — 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 also will reside on TVGuide.com.

Jolna, a former TiVo Inc. executive, said Gemstar is talking to mobile phone carriers such as Verizon Wireless about supplying TV Guide Spot clips to subscribers. Verizon already provides one-minute “mobisodes” from programs like 24 to customers with phones capable of receiving video from third-generation mobile networks, also known as 3G.

“We’re in conversations with all on-demand platforms,” Jolna said.

Gemstar also is 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.

Along with “Watch this!” and “Catch Up” segments, the channel will also contain “Big Movie Guide” highlights of the VOD movies available on cable systems, including interviews with stars and behind-the-scenes segments.

The channel will also run “MVids” clips from music acts that perform on programs like NBC’s Today and late-night shows.

Jolna said TV Guide Spot will run traditional ad spots, plus billboard ads and plugs for certain shows from an on-air studio host. “We’ll also experiment with the most innovative marketers out there to reach new audiences by integrating messaging and entertainment,” he said.

But Jolna insisted 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.

 

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