Video services

Paying VoD's Freight

8:20 AM -- Cable is eager to use advertising to help pay for "free" video-on-demand (VoD) programming, but the historic bugaboo has been the fact that most of those spots have to be baked into the VoD program well ahead of time, sometimes on the order of weeks.

If the advertiser wants to swap an ad out, it takes even more time. This kluge way of doing things has not helped MSOs capitalize on the VoD platform as well as they should be able to by now. The good news is that digital ad insertion technology should help to remedy this because it allows MSOs and their ad partners to splice in new spots on the fly.

But there aren't that many deployments and tests to talk about yet. However, Sunflower Broadband , a small operator based in Lawrence, Kan., is trying to change that with a dynamic VoD ad business it first got off the ground in 2007. (See Sunflower Inserts VoD Ad Test.)

In its latest move, the operator is field testing SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC)'s AdPulse system in tandem with the Comcast Media Center (CMC) 's content distribution platform, which delivers VoD programming to about 35 million U.S. homes. The initial trial will enable the insertion of pre- and post-roll ads in on-demand shows from HealthiNation Inc.

A SeaChange spokesperson confirmed that the trial is already live, and expected to run through early 2010, and that Sunflower is taking advantage of both national and local ad inventories. On the local side, it might make sense, for example, for a Lawrence-area doctor's office to run an ad within some of HealthiNation's on-demand programs.

SeaChange's AdPulse, meanwhile, is the latest digital ad insertion system to be integrated with the CMC's broadly used VoD platform. Tandberg Television 's AdPoint system was the first to do so. Of more recent note, the CMC is involved in a VoD ad insertion trial Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has underway in Jacksonville, Fla., which uses an advanced ad system and campaign manager from BlackArrow Inc. (See Comcast Gets Dynamic With VoD Ads .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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