In between martinis and hors d’oeuvres at the Comcast Spotlight’s event in NY last week, a demo caught the attention of media buyers seeking the future of TV advertising. SeaChange’s live feed showcased Comcast’s on Demand offering in Boston, including a 2-wk-old addition dubbed "Spotlight." The Spotlight VOD channel featured 3 content categories: PSAs from Comcast Cares and the Ad Council; entertainment-related fare from VTV: Varsity Television and local movie trailers; plus a music video showcase. The music videos already have attracted sponsors (KFC in Philly and a Blue Cross division), says Warren Schlichting, Comcast Spotlight vp for new business strategy, who oversees VOD ad sales. He sees Spotlight on demand becoming the homepage for Comcast’s VOD ads as that business takes off. "We had it in Philly for quite a while, and as of a few weeks ago it should be everywhere that we have VOD," he says. "There was a hesitance on the part of our cable marketing folks to quickly throw in ads everywhere, but we said, ‘the world is going to time-shifted viewing and if we don’t have a place to play in a few years our avails will be significantly down. Our 30-second linear avails will go away, and you will have not provided for us to play in this space.’" "Spotlight VOD makes a nice umbrella for everything we’re doing in advertising; not just ads but the Ad Council spots and long-form sponsored content," Schlichting adds. "Right now we’re just letting the offering grow organically, but you can see where it could go." We might "offer 100 how-to videos that could be sponsored. Besides offering movie trailers to help people before they buy a movie ticket, imagine having a blurb about a restaurant and potentially a video" of the restaurant. "I foresee Spotlight becoming a great user experience with lots and lots of different pieces." Eventually 1 piece will be interactive direct response, using the remote control. Cable subs can request more info with Cox’s "FreeZone" ad-supported VOD test in San Diego and Time Warner Cable’s interactive on-demand ads in Hawaii. "That’s definitely in our tech roadmap," Schlichting says, "and it can’t happen fast enough." – Shirley Brady

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