Rainbow Media has long been one of few major players in original VOD content, starting in 2000 with Lifeskool, its fact-based channel that offers vignettes on everything from cars and bikes to cooking to magic tricks for the 18-to-24 set, and continuing in 2004 with the launch of Sportskool, which put a more active spin on the Lifeskool concept. The networks are currently available in 25 million of the approximately 30 million VOD-enabled homes, with carriage expected to reach 40 million by the end of 2008.
Growing part of nontraditional media
With more critical mass, two major marketers are signing up for their own integrated programs on Sportskool, giving more weight to the future of VOD as a significant part of the nontraditional media budget.
Chrysler's Jeep, which created its own program on Sportskool earlier this year in March, has reupped its partnership with the network to plug its 2008 Jeep Liberty, complete with Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, the Lebron James of the skate/snowboarding community, as celebrity spokesman. Kendra Corman, advertising manager for the Jeep brand, said the initial Sportskool campaign helped the brand to perfectly target the younger consumer, in a way that's more uniquely measured than a traditional TV buy.
"We're very interested in impression and view times, who's watching short little snippets, or time spent with each view," she said. "VOD engagement is different than it is with the rest of television, and with the product being integrated we're really happy with that."
Product integration has become of increased importance to Jeep, having recently done a deal with ABC to incorporate the brand into the Anne Heche drama "Men in Trees."
Navy's new-media spin
New to Sportskool this quarter, however, is the U.S. Navy, which is using the platform to put a new spin on its recruitment videos. Joe Gauzletti, senior VP-group management supervisor for Detroit agency Campbell-Ewald, said his approach to media for the Navy account has "basically flipped" for the 2007 fiscal year.
"We don't look at the traditional Big Three [networks] as our predominant communication streams anymore," he said. "They obviously play a role in what we do -– you can't not have TV on your media plan -- but the importance of 17- to 24-year-olds engaging with social networking and all different platforms is just as critical -- if not more -- to our audience."
Dan Ronayne, general manager of Sportskool and Lifeskool, said both channels have been looking to bring more marketers onboard for integrated partnerships, given the uniqueness of the medium.
"These two brands are really suited for every advertiser out there, all looking for a way to create some engagement with their brand and their audience, which is increasingly difficult to do in today's media world. In the VOD world, every engaged viewer is somebody who meant to be there."
For Campbell-Ewald's Mr. Gauzletti, any opportunity to capture part of what he likes to call the young demo's "continuous partial attention" is a welcome one. "We've moved into a world of planning to repurpose our assets as opposed to aggressively rejiggering our assets. This is an opportunity for us to essentially create stories that are incrementally told and built on each other, something you can't do in a 30-second spot."