Discovery rolls out VOD in high profile project

Discovery Networks has begun delivering 75 hours of on-demand programming each month across its 14 networks in a project that has drawn the interest of major advertisers. So far Discovery has a dozen firms interested in on demand, including Best Buy, Kohler, General Motors, Chase, Remax, Marriott, Allstate Insurance and Pfizer.

The launch of the Discovery On Demand service, initially with Comcast, is significant because Discovery has lurked on the on-demand sidelines, though it is one of the most desirable TV content brands.

Two years ago Discovery announced plans to launch several types of on-demand content, but quickly abandoned those plans to focus on Discovery HD Theater. That decision appears to have paid off, since the HD channel has now secured carriage with nearly all major cable operators and satellite providers.

In addition, the stall in launching VOD may indeed have been prescient, because the September rollout occurs in an advertising climate that is much more receptive and eager to experiment aggressively in VOD than two years ago, when VOD was more of a technology in testing.

Discovery On Demand initially will include billboards and 30-second spots included in the content, because dynamic ad insertion that would allow ads to be swapped out or changed on the fly isn’t ready yet.

In return, Field and the other advertisers expect to receive some usage data. That’s a critical issue for advertisers and ad-supported networks because without information on how consumers use VOD content, marketers won’t invest in the platform.

Discovery’s advertisers could receive aggregated usage data for total views per day per show, but probably won’t receive information yet on whether commercials were skipped.

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