Programmers are desperate for more data on VOD, so the news Thurs that Comcast would make monthly VOD data reports from Rentrak available to its VOD content providers is a move in the right direction. "Is it everything programmers and advertisers want? No. Is it a significant step forward? Yes. This is like negotiating between Palestine and Israel," said Channing Dawson, svp, emerging networks for Scripps Nets and co-chmn of CTAM’s On Demand Consortium. Programmers would love to have more info on demographics, know what parts of a VOD program aren’t watched, and how a subscriber uses the rewind, pause and fast-forward functions. But Dawson knows that’s a long ways down the road-and programmers will never get all the data they want. The CMCSA-Rentrak deal does represent some changes for the good when it comes to on demand data. Chiefly, programmers will get Comcast’s monthly usage reports much faster now that Rentrak is compiling them. "It takes up to 2 months for Comcast. With Rentrak, it should be about 10 days after the month ends," said Jennifer Dangar, vp, new media distribution, affil sales & marketing for Discovery Nets. The Rentrak data should also be easier for programmers to manipulate, she said. Programmers will also have the opportunity to buy more data from Rentrak, she expects. The deal’s also good news for Rentrak in that Comcast is moving beyond its Philly trial, and using the data measurement service in all of its VOD markets. Programmers should receive the 1st monthly reports in April. While Insight and Cablevision currently have trials with Rentrak, other MSOs are going their own way. Dawson says Time Warner is providing programmers with a "gargantuan amount of data-but that’s the burden we want."

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