NEWS CORP. TO TEST VIDEO ON DEMAND

Cablevision Deal Would Include 'The Shield,' '24'

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NEW ORLEANS (AdAge.com) -- News Corp.'s president and chief operating officer said today the company is close to a deal with cable operator Cablevision to test video-on-demand offerings for two of the media company's critically acclaimed shows.

The executive, Peter Chernin, speaking at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association conference in New Orleans, said the deal would involve The Shield, which airs on the FX cable network, and 24, on Fox.

Many industry observers think the experiment with video on demand, which would allow consumers to watch shows when they want, will revolutionize the TV business.

Threat to advertisers?
That could pose

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a threat to the ad industry if the shows are replayed without commercials. Of course, cable operators could make them available with the ads locked in.

Mr. Chernin said it was unclear whether Cablevision would offer the shows with or without ads during the test.

"It's not an important issue for us," he said, adding, "We felt the shows would benefit from the promotion."

Controversial shows
Speaking of The Shield, a controversial cop series on FX, Mr. Chernin offered his assessment of boundary-pushing content on ad-supported TV.

The show's hard-edged content caused a run of marketers to pull their support prior to launch and after the opening episodes.

"We went through a pretty big revolving door of advertisers," he said. "We've more than replaced them at probably triple the CPM," or cost per thousand viewers.

Mr. Chernin also expressed some frustration with protests by interest groups over the content of shows such as The Shield or Fox's Boston Public that he felt posed as a barrier to content that tests limits.

"You get certain pressure groups looking for pressure points and trying to scare the advertisers," he said.

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