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Interview: Channel 5 Talks About Its Video On Demand Service – Demand Five

Interview: Channel 5 Talks About Its Video On Demand Service – Demand Five

We took the time to Interview Channel Five's Demand Five team to investigate further the current boom in Internet TV and how it impacts online marketing.

Five was the first terrestrial broadcaster to offer a download service when it launched Five Download in September 2006. Demand Five's catch-up service provides viewers with online access to a significant percentage of Five's peaktime schedule including much of its hit acquired content such as CSI and Neighbours.

Q. What are your targets for Demand Five in the coming years?
A. The one thing I'm really hoping is that even more people become aware of the service. The majority of our existing users and the press have said they're impressed with what we offer, so it's really about getting the word out to those who aren't yet using Demand Five.

Dan Cryan at Screen Digest recently told New Media Age magazine that "ITV and 4oD have seen a lot less love, while iPlayer and Demand Five have become the more successful players in the UK market," and that type of expert industry recognition is wonderful - but we're really keen for all audiences to discover how easy to use Demand Five is and what great content we have.

Q. How will the collapse of the planned Kangaroo service affect Demand Five and On-Demand TV in general?
A. Channel Five were not involved with Kangaroo, but we're certainly keen to pursue third party content syndication initiatives in the future - at the end of the day, what we most want is for people to be able to easily get their hands on our shows.

Q. What has the take up of Demand Five been like?
A. Having launched in June 2008, we're not yet one year old, but have already built a large and much-loved audience of habitual Demand Five users who login on a regular basis to track down the content they're most interested in, whether that's Aussie soaps like Home & Away, slick US drama like Numb3rs, or homegrown entertainment like Minder. And while you expect growth around the launch of a new service, we're pleased to have seen growth continue steadily since. I think if anything, I'd say take-up has been higher than expected - for instance, since we upgraded to a Flash player, we've actually been able to sell more advertising than we originally anticipated, based on higher than predicted volumes of traffic, which is fantastic, particularly in the current economic climate.

Q. What is the most popular content and does it differ from traditional TV at this stage?
A. Shows like CSI, Neighbours and NCIS always do extremely well, as you'd expect - this mirrors traditional TV ratings. Our aim is to offer Five content, when the viewer wants it, so the content doesn't wildly differ from broadcast content.

Q. Is Demand Five targeted at a worldwide audience? I.e. would it be possible to promote TV programs worldwide?
A. No, we don't target a worldwide audience - as a publisher broadcaster we have UK rights, and that's our focus.

Q. What's the monetisation model moving forward? Does it differ from traditional television advertising models?
A. Paid-for downloads are rare on our site - currently, the only content you can buy is certain episodes of CSI, which accounts for around 1 in 200 videos watched, with the rest being free to view. So I see the monetisation of video online at the moment as driven primarily by advertising and sponsorship - and online is a great environment for clients interested in targeting specific audiences very effectively.

Advertising on our videos differs from traditional broadcast TV in many ways, but we're sensitive to user tolerance; brevity is crucial.

Q. Are there plans to move Demand Five onto a mobile platform?
A. We are looking longterm at ways to extend our reach on as many platforms as possible, focussing on the platforms our audience are most likely to be using.

Q. Are you planning to produce TV shows solely for Demand Five?
A. Not at the moment, but never say never. Five already produces bespoke video for websites like the Gadget Show, which has its own exclusive web TV shows (http://fwd.five.tv/gadget-show/videos), whereas at the moment Demand Five is about giving people the chance to catch-up on our existing broadcast content - and of course see shows before they're broadcast, in the case of certain must-see dramas like CSI. We're certainly open to producing bespoke content with production companies.

Q. Do you see a near future where online TV viewing will take over Offline?
A. I'm firmly of the belief that the two models don't compete with each other, and as such it's not accurate to talk about 'taking over'. I am however convinced that online's current place in this symbiotic relationship will become increasingly important, and also that we've only seen the beginning in terms of the level of interaction with shows that online methods can foster.

I'm talking here not just about online catch-up video and the choice and convenience that obviously provides, but also about shows coming to life on platforms like Twitter (the Peep Show character Twitter feeds are the best example I've seen), and of course on new platforms that haven't been launched yet.

This type of interaction fits into the so-called "lean forward" programming model - dramas like The Wire that really make you work to understand the plots and dialogue, or even something like Skins where you can find out what music the characters are listening to on MySpace; these are the shows that can flourish online.

You can watch Demand Five programmes at demand.five.tv

Interview was conducted by Andrew Redfern on behalf of HitSearch and with Catherine Bray of Five. If you would be interesting in us featuring your brand then drop us a line @ press {at} hitsearchlimited.com

Would you like to know about Internet Marketing? If so, contact HitSearch, Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click & Social Space Marketing specialists, on 0845 643 9289. Remember, its a big world out there, make sure you become visible.

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