Round-Up of Recent News from TVN Entertainment

--VOD Deals with Zuffa/UFC, Summit, CBS, Mag Rack, Fuse, Cox and More

[itvt] recently reported (April 2nd) that VOD distribution services provider, TVN Entertainment, has launched a joint initiative with VOD technology provider, SeaChange International, to ensure the readiness of VOD content for interior-break advertising insertion. Here is a round-up of other recent news from TVN:
--Last month, the company announced a partnership agreement with Zuffa, LLC, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts brand, to launch a VOD service called UFC On Demand. The deal calls for TVN to manage the new service's sales, licensing and distribution partnerships and to support it through its ADONISS encoding, transport and asset management services. According to TVN, the service is currently available in over 6 million North American homes through TVN distribution partners such as Verizon, Rogers, Shaw, Insight, WOW, Bresnan, Atlantic Broadband and Armstrong. The company says that additional affiliate deals are in the works that will bring UFC On Demand to over 15 million North American homes over the coming months. The new service is available in SD, HD and Spanish versions and is comprised of three content "folders": 1) UFC Free Zone, which offers short features on mixed martial arts rules, fighting styles and techniques, as well as event previews, full-length fighter profiles, and episodes of the show "Countdown UFC"--all free-of-charge; 2) UFC Fight Zone, which offers individual UFC library fights for $2.99 each with a 24-hour viewing period, and which features fighters who will be competing in upcoming UFC pay-per-view events; and 3) UFC Event Zone, which offers full UFC events and specials, priced from $4.99 each for a 24-hour viewing period (note: the folder's offerings include recent UFC pay-per-view events that feature fighters who will be competing in an upcoming event, as well as classic UFC bouts from the 1990's, full-length DVD's, and compilation specials). "UFC On Demand is not only a compelling revenue-generating package for affiliates, but also one of the most inventive promotional models we have seen in VOD," Jim Riley, TVN's chief strategy officer, said in a prepared statement. "By showcasing fighters that will be participating in upcoming PPV events, the UFC On Demand package helps drive awareness, and ultimately incremental revenue tied to the PPV events; and with TVN's flexible VOD tools, customizing the dual offer has never been easier."
--Last month, the company announced a multi-year agreement with Summit Entertainment that sees it distributing all the latter's new-release titles (including the box-office success, "Twilight") in both standard- and high-definition formats. The deal also gives Summit access to TVN's ADONISS asset management system and its iPRI metadata tool, which allows content providers to remotely view, track and edit metadata; make changes to their menu structure; and generate reports. "Video-on-demand is an increasingly important component in our overall digital distribution strategy," Alex Fragen, Summit's president of domestic television distribution, said in a prepared statement. "TVN's powerful interactive toolset gives us the visibility and flexibility to manage and analyze our new-release timing--including simultaneous VOD-DVD releases."
--The company was recently tapped by CBS Sports and the CBS College Sports Network to distribute "NCAA VOD: The Best of March Madness," a free HD VOD programming offering devoted to the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship (note: this was the second year that the offering has been made available). CBS Sports and the CBS College Sports Network produced around 50 packages of programming for the offering, including highlights of all games from the NCAA "Sweet 16" through the April 6th Championship Game, an "Official NCAA Tournament Highlight Show" featuring action from the championship's first and second rounds, recap shows for both the 2008 and 2009 championships, and a series of "historical...vignettes," entitled "NCAA March Madness Memories." The offering, which was also available in SD, was distributed by TVN to Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, Charter, Atlantic Broadband, Armstrong Utilities, Bend Broadband, Bresnan Communications, Insight, Mediacom, Midcontinent Communications, Suddenlink Communications, Sky Angel, Wave Broadband, Astound Broadband, Sunflower Broadband, Click!, Blue Ridge, Pioneer Long Distance, San Bruno and Service Electric. According to TVN, it was able to distribute NCAA March Madness highlights within hours of each game's original airing, using its TVNow fast-turnaround service. Its deal with CBS Sports and CBS College Sports network also saw the broadcasters using its ADONISS and iPRI tools.
--Last month, the company announced that it had signed a long-term VOD services agreement with Mag Rack Entertainment. Mag Rack Entertainment was formed last year when Rainbow Media Holdings sold its Lifeskool unit to media and technology entrepreneurs, Joe Covey and Matthew Davidge (see [itvt] Issue 8.23 Part 1): the company's name is the brand originally used by Rainbow Media for the magazine-style VOD titles offered by the unit. Mag Rack also recently acquired ConcertTV to further expand its VOD offerings. According to TVN, its deal with Mag Rack covers the full range of VOD services that it offers, including metadata publishing, distribution and asset management services to support various codecs, formats, fast-turnaround requirements and advertising initiatives across North America. The deal will also see TVN supporting various Mag Rack marketing initiatives, including the re-branding of Lifeskool.
--In February, the company announced that it had signed a long-term VOD services agreement with music programmer, Fuse, that will see it supporting all the latter's VOD needs, including multiple codecs (MPEG-2 and -4), SD and HD, advanced asset management tools and services, "programming stunts," and "fast-turn services to accommodate VOD advertising sales timelines and high-profile programming across the VOD landscape." "For clients like Fuse, we create a customized solution beginning with our dynamic toolset to track, monitor, update, and manage VOD programs," Matt Cohen TVN's SVP of strategy and business development, said in a prepared statement. "As Fuse's VOD plans continue to evolve in support of its affiliates, TVN will continue to innovate to make it simpler, easier and more efficient to implement." According to TVN, Fuse recently added an HD VOD package to its SD VOD offering, and moved all its VOD content to fast-turn delivery "for timely advertiser accommodation." The company says that Fuse's strategy of providing a quicker turnaround of high-profile linear content for VOD premieres has garnered a favorable response from advertisers, resulting in high VOD sell-out rates.
--In January, the company announced that it had signed a long-term VOD services agreement with GolfTV. The deal covers affiliate sales, metadata management, distribution services (to TV, hotel and broadband customers) and access to TVN's various asset management tools. GolfTV offers HD travel programming on golf destinations (it works with Golfweek magazine to develop programming for the latter's resort and real estate clients), as well as features on golf instruction and equipment. Its programming has appeared on such channels as Discovery HD Theater, INHD, Prime Sports and The Golf Channel.
--In January, the company announced that its VOD service, The Karaoke Channel, had launched on Cox Communications' digital cable platform. According to TVN, the service, which is the result of a partnership with Stingray, is one of the most widely distributed VOD channels, reaching at least 27 million subscribers. It has a library of around 16,000 tracks, of which around 300 are available to Cox customers at any one time. Other MSO's that carry the service include Comcast, Charter, Insight, Rogers and Mediacom.
--In January, the company announced that it had signed a long-term VOD services agreement with Grace Creek Media, the Washington, DC-based production, distribution and management company that last year acquired the Sportskool instructional VOD service from Rainbow Media (see [itvt] Issue 8.23 Part 1). The deal--which among other things sees TVN supporting the re-launch of Sportskool--calls for TVN to provide Grace Creek with a range of services, including distribution and asset management services for the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 codecs, and standard- and high-definition TV; fast turnaround services; and advertising services. The deal also calls for TVN to provide Grace Creek with its iPRI toolset. "Sportskool will look to TVN to provide its unique expertise and connections, as well as the flexible platform to allow us to meet our objectives in a fast-changing VOD landscape," Grace Creek founder and CEO, Andrew Walworth, said in a prepared statement. "Our agreement with TVN, along with our production and distribution agreement with USA Today Live, the television production arm of the nation's top-selling newspaper, will allow us to re-launch Sportskool as an extraordinary VOD instructional sports service." The re-launch of Sportskool represents Grace Creek's entry into the VOD market.


North America