Placing a safe bet that Americans want to lead richer lives (who doesn’t?!) Rainbow Media has changed the focus and name of its Mag Rack video on demand offering and next month will unveil a slew of free VOD series promising viewers benefits and tangible results, CableWorld reports in its Feb. 19 cover story.

Now in 11 million households, Mag Rack will cease on March 29th to be replaced by Rainbow’s new free On Demand franchise called lifeskool. As Rainbow’s new VOD flagship brand, it will launch with original series "to educate and inspire" in 12 categories including children, finances, automobiles and video games, says EVP/GM Dan Ronayne.

Rainbow’s "skool" brands aim to entertain as well as teach viewers. To that end, lifeskool will co-exist with the On Demand sports instruction videos already grouped under sportskool, Mag Rack’s spin-off (and more widely distributed) VOD channel. sportskool will continue to offer tips from Mia Hamm, Jim Walton and other sports gurus in 23 million U.S. homes (a reach that makes sportskool nearly ubiquitous in cable’s VOD universe).

Guitar Xpress, Mag Rack’s popular guitar instruction series, will form the basis of a third school (er, skool) launching in the fourth quarter: musicskool. In addition to teaching viewers how to become guitar gods, musicskool will offer video instruction in piano, bass, drums and home recording.

All three skools will be available in HD for operators interest in high def content on demand. To recoup its expanded investment in original and exclusive On Demand programming, Rainbow also plans to sell single sponsorships to the skool series.

With VOD advertising in its infancy and VOD barely in knee pants, some advertisers feel VOD ads can be effective in reaching niche audiences, says Magna Global SVP Brian Wieser. Many national advertisers feel VOD’s numbers are too small for national campaigns. Kagan Research estimates U.S. cable VOD households will reach 53 million by 2010.



For more details on Mag Rack’s rebranding—including podcasts with skool instructors John Lithgow and Bode Miller—check out Seth Arenstein’s cover story in this week’s issue of CableWorld.



Click here to check out some lifeskool clips and watch Seth’s video interview with Rainbow’s skools administrator Dan Ronayne.

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