On-demand services have become an increasingly popular offering for cable companies, since they give viewers long-desired power over what they watch and when they watch it, with the ability to avoid annoying advertising pitches as a bonus. But Comcast
Comcast plans to offer its subscribers an entire on-demand channel on which advertising will be woven into the programming itself. The channel, called Exercise TV, will offer viewers 24-hour fitness programming developed by Jake Steinfeld of Body by Jake fame. Instead of commercials, advertising will occur within the segments, with graphical overlays and product placement mixed with educational video segments. The channel was developed with advertiser New Balance, as well as Time Warner's
I can see why a free channel called Exercise TV might be a great idea in a nation where so many people are overweight and underbuffed. Exercise- and weight-loss-related products and services are big, big business. Consider, for example, NutriSystem
As for Exercise TV, what better way to get couch potatoes to exercise than to offer them a way to easily access fitness instruction right from their couch? (Drop and give me 20!) Exercise TV shows will concentrate on such hip fitness trends as Pilates, yoga, and tai chi, among others.
On the other hand, one can only hope that the advertising doesn't come across as too heavy-handed. If the advertising isn't pulled off deftly, it could feel like the equivalent of the dreaded infomercial, which many people consider the bane of late-night TV. (Jake Steinfeld, of course, is no stranger to infomercials; Body by Jake has done a few.)
Services such as Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection TiVo
Sure, Exercise TV is free, and most people have come to realize that "free" is a bit of an oxymoron in a world in which advertising subsidizes most free content. However, the runaway popularity of ad-free and on-demand content shows that people don't like being constantly subjected to marketing messages that they don't ask for and aren't interested in. That's where TiVo's plans for such things as opt-in advertising also take a brilliant turn. (It also takes a page from Google
It hardly seems like a coincidence that Comcast recently celebrated a milestone: By last October, viewers had ordered up more than a billion programs through its On Demand service in 2005 alone. It's certainly no surprise that with that kind of success, Comcast would consider it high time to figure out a way to drum up some revenues. However, too much inescapable marketing might make Exercise TV an exercise in futility.
Further Foolishness on demand:
- Flash back to when Comcast's On Demand reached the 1 billion mark.
- Last spring, TiVo tuned in a few patents.
- Tim Beyers pointed out that TiVo's been channeling Google and then suggested that Google buy TiVo.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.