Meredith, Comcast Partner on VOD

Parents TV Draws on Publisher’s Expertise, Focuses on Family Life
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Meredith and Comcast are pairing up for a family-focused video-on-demand suite to launch in December.

Called Parents TV, the multiple-channel cable platform will focus on every stage of parenthood, “from conception to college,” and it will be available free-of-charge for all of Comcast’s digital subscribers -- some 14 million customers.

The suite will launch with six separate Parents TV channels, but it could grow to 10 in the near future. At the start, the channels will have only five hours of programming. Most of it will be just a few minutes long, with the longest at 22 minutes. About 80% of the programs will be switched out monthly, while the rest will remain available.

“We think it’s a great brand extension for Meredith,” Meredith Broadcasting Group president Paul Karpowicz said. “This is really in our wheelhouse.”

The original content is created by Meredith Video Solutions, an in-house production arm, and draws on expertise from Meredith magazine titles like Family Circle, American Baby and Parents. The channels are ad-supported. Karpowicz said blue-chip advertisers like Kimberly-Clark and Discover Card are on board.

Meredith is the 19th-largest broadcast group, with 13 stations. The company’s portfolio also boasts 25 subscription magazines and Web channels Parents.tv and Better.tv.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, has more than 24 million cable customers nationwide.

Parents TV’s online component, Parents.tv, already launched. Featuring ads from Chrysler and Charles Schwab, the site features tips on everything from breast-feeding to infant CPR, as well as humorous videos of babies dancing and hamming it up.

Comcast senior vice president of new media Matt Strauss said tapping Meredith’s parenting expertise was a big draw for the cable giant. “This is another example of how we are working with top-tier, recognizable brands to develop original, nonlinear, advertising-supported programming,” he said. “Families with young children will be able to access original content from the team of parenting experts at Meredith. Most important, it will be available whenever they need it.”

Meredith can market the service through its magazines, TV stations and Web sites.

With the female-focused Meredith also specializing in categories like homes and gardens, Karpowicz said, more cable VOD channels might be in the works, such as one for its broadband/broadcast program Better.TV, which launched in the spring.

“We’d love to take that same idea and move something like Better.TV to a VOD platform,” he added. “I’m sure we’ll continue to talk with Comcast about that.”

Karpowicz said Better.TV “set the industry standard for cross-media content delivery and interaction,” adding, “We have a proven ability to work across our diverse assets to reach consumers.”

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