SBJ/February 5 - 11, 2007/This Weeks News

Speed green-lights ‘Pinks’ for VOD premiere

In a nod to the growing popularity of cable’s on-demand services, Speed is launching the fourth season of its popular series “Pinks” on video-on-demand eight days before the season premiere on its linear channel.

Most of the top cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner and Cox, will make the season premiere episode available to their digital subscribers free via VOD Feb. 13. The episode will make its debut on Speed at 9:30 p.m. ET Feb. 21.

Speed is in 69.8 million homes. Its VOD offerings are available to 20 million.

“This is our first shot at doing something like this,” said Kevin Annison, Speed’s vice president of business development. “A lot of others are doing this. We’re following suit.”

The on-demand launch of the series concerns some ad buyers, who are leery of video-on-demand systems that allow users to fast forward through their messages. They also are scared away by the unproven nature of video-on-demand, which they fear doesn’t provide accurate ratings information.

The premiere episode will not be ad supported when it launches on VOD Feb. 13. Speed’s two on-demand sponsors from last year, Castrol and Craftsman, have not re-upped this year, but networks officials say VOD sponsors should be signed before the end of February.

“We’ve been a little lax on ad sales,” Annison said.

He suggested that ad buyers will warm to video-on-demand, which Speed will add as a multiplatform buy. To that end, the network is making “Pinks” episodes available via iTunes this year. Speed also has been enticing some advertisers, such as Napa, through product placement deals.

The series anchors Speed’s Wednesday night block of automotive lifestyle programming.

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