Cox Upgrades its VOD Service's On-Screen Interface

--Gravitas Secures New VOD Distribution Deals, ZillionTV in VOD Deal with MLB.com

The US's third-largest cable MSO, Cox Communications, announced Wednesday that it has upgraded the on-screen interface of its VOD service, Cox On DEMAND. According to the company, the new interface provides faster and simpler navigation and is available immediately across its digital cable footprint. "Our goal with this upgrade is to provide customers with an even more attractive, fast and intuitive On DEMAND experience," Chris Pantoya, Cox's VP of marketing, said in a prepared statement. "The features make navigation easy, particularly since there is much more programming to see."

According to Cox, the upgrade includes:

  • Horizontal scrolling, allowing faster navigation through folders.
  • "Skip" functions, allowing viewers to skip forward or backward in 15-minute intervals while fast-forwarding or rewinding.
  • The availability of movie previews directly from a folder's main menu.
  • The ability to jump back 10 seconds via a new Instant Replay feature.
  • The ability to access VOD programming from channel 1 or 1000.

In addition, Cox says, it is adding more content to its FreeZone free-on-demand offering, and more movies and more HD content to its Movies On DEMAND offering, including movies that are available day-and-date with their DVD release.

In other VOD news:

  • Digital content aggregator, Gravitas Ventures, said Wednesday that it is "significantly" expanding its VOD audience reach via distribution agreements with Atlantic Broadband, Bresnan, Cogeco, Mediacom and Suddenlink. As a result, the company says, it will be delivering VOD packages to over 40 cable, satellite and telco operators as of next year. "The addition of this outstanding group of operators caps a year of tremendous growth for Gravitas Ventures and video-on-demand in general," Gravitas founder and CEO, Nolan Gallagher, said in a prepared statement. "With the addition of these operators, we are on track to deliver more than 300 new programs next year to more than 40 cable, satellite and telco operators enabling us to offer greater opportunities to filmmakers seeking audiences through video-on-demand." Gravitas--which says that it will continue to use Avail-TVN for asset distribution and sales and marketing support--claims to have relationships in place with over 150 distributors, production companies and filmmakers. It says that its affiliates will have access to several exclusive transactional VOD packages, each of which is refreshed 100% monthly, including Gravitas New Release Movies On Demand, Gravitas Horror On Demand and Gravitas Events on Demand.
  • ZillionTV, a company that is attempting to launch a subscription-free broadband VOD service (note: the company recently replaced founding CEO, Mitch Berman, with Jack Lawrence, who was previously CFO and COO at toymaker, Corgi International; shortly prior to that, it announced that it was delaying its commercial launch until the second half of next year, and that it was pursuing a direct-to-consumer strategy to supplement its telco-targeted strategy--for more background, see the articles published on itvt.com, October 21st, October 12th and September 21st), said Wednesday that it has added MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, to its line-up of content providers. The deal will provide ZillionTV will such content as archived games of the week, classic games and video recaps--all of which will be advertising-supported and free-of-charge (note: viewers will have to watch a set of ads at the beginning of each program). According to ZillionTV, the addition of MLB.com programming "reinforces a number of important elements of the ZillionTV model. It underscores the value of viewer flexibility by adjusting programming availability to better suit the changing lifestyle and viewing behaviors of today's multi-screen viewer and supports the value of this new delivery approach to content owners and advertisers alike," the company says, and also "demonstrates that content providers can generate new revenue streams from valuable on-demand programming without additional costs to viewers." ZillionTV--which has previously announced content deals with Disney, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Paramount and 20th Century Fox Television--says that it will provide users of its service with three different ways to watch its content, depending on the business model preferred by each content provider: users will be able to watch ad-supported programs for free, rent programs for "a nominal fee" or "buy to own," the company says. According to the company, when viewing free, ad-supported content, viewers will be able to select advertising categories based on their interests, or simply opt to see randomly displayed ads.


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