Marketers Ponder VOD Limits

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Tension between programmers and cable operators continues to hinder the development of video on demand, but shows no sign off abating, say executives from both camps.

Speaking at a breakfast at the CTAM cable marketing conference in Philadelphia, cable operators expressed frustration that they still can't get access to the best programming of either basic cable or broadcast networks.

Programmers say they won't offer their top shows until operators agree to pay additional license fees or figure out a way to generate ad revenue when subscribers call up a VOD program.

In pay-per-view movies, "we know how the revenues work, we know how we get paid, we know how other people get paid," says Ron Lamprecht, VP of new media for NBC Universal. TV programming is equally valuable. "Whatever the model is, that model should pay us for content."

But ad sales in on demand programming will be thwarted by the limits on viewer information.

TV networks get Nielsen overnights while cable operators deliver VOD data monthly. TV networks get demographic information about who's watching; cable VOD systems show only that someone in a household watched a program.

Still, VOD can evolve with a mix of free VOD, pay-per-view movies, and subscription packages.

Bob Benya, SVP of Time Warner Cable, sees room for all three: "There's really going to be a continuation of growing all three of those. We don't really think there's going to be one killer model."

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