Comcast, GM in VOD Accord

NEW YORK General Motors has struck an agreement with cable system operator Comcast and CBS to sponsor six CBS prime-time programs now airing on Comcast’s On Demand VOD service.

Under the agreement GM will fully sponsor CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: N.Y., NCIS, Numb3rs and Jericho on Comcast’s VOD.

New episodes of the programs will be ready for VOD viewing at no additional cost to Comcast On Demand customers starting the day after their network airing and will be available for four weeks.

As part of the arrangement, the shows will feature three brief commercial interruptions, including 30-second spots just before the programs begin, one at the midpoint and one at the conclusion. The GM spots will feature the company’s GMC and Hummer brands.

“It’s a great way to help bring CBS programming to its fans, and it also provides a relevant platform for GM to present product information about our GMC and Hummer brands to that audience,” said Betsy Lazar, executive director of media and advertising operations at GM.

After several years of experimentation, CBS, which had advocated a VOD model that charged viewers an additional fee, now believes ad-supported video on demand distributed free to viewers may be the best VOD business model.

Two months ago CBS and Comcast renewed an existing VOD agreement, but with different terms from the initial fee-based deal the pair struck last year. The previous agreement offered CBS programming for 99 cents per episode only in markets served by CBS owned and operated stations.

In addition to the traditional 30-second units for Hummer and GMC trucks, GM will insert a “call to action” that refers viewers to a separate channel on Comcast’s VOD platform, called the GM Showroom, where they can take a more in-depth look at the automaker’s vehicles.