Free, Ad-Supported Effort Scheduled in San Diego

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NEW YORK ( -- In a pilot program that could have long-term implications for the cable industry, cable provider Cox Communications plans to make available video-on-demand programming -- with ads alongside -- in 100,000 San Diego-area homes beginning late this year.

Since it is a test, Cox will not charge for the programming, which will not be the types of movies and TV shows that could someday make video on demand hugely popular; instead, it will be locally based content. Cox is calling the channel the "free zone" as a marketing maneuver.

The cable operator will offer on-screen advertising whereby a menu appears allowing viewers to select programming. A principal goal of the test program is gauging how video on demand and advertising interrelate.

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