Cable operators hope promotion pact delivers

Could pizza and a movie get more consumers to rent movies through their cable systems?

That’s what a consortium of cable operators are hoping will happen through a promotional pact with Pizza Hut that will enable the chain’s online customers to preview pics offered via In Demand’s video-on-demand service while they wait for their pies.

Distributors provide Pizza Hut with a list of films to promote through a separate “Entertainment Hut” site run by the pizza chain’s digital ad agency, Triad, which also serves as the site’s ad sales agent. Most of the titles offered will be family fare.

Universal, Warner Bros., Sony and Fox have been among the major studios pushing In Demand’s owners — Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner — to promote cable-based VOD services that let consumers rent movies at home the same day they become available to buy on DVD.

In December, Comcast said it had doubled the number of films it offers day-and-date via VOD to more than 200 titles in 2010.

Pricing for those pics is higher than through other rental services from Redbox, for example, which must wait 28 days after a disc’s bow to offer most of the same titles.Last March, the cable companies launched a $30 million campaign and new logo to promote Movies on Demand with the slogan, “the video store just moved in.”

According to In Demand, its pact with Pizza Hut is “a logical connection to an audience that is planning to enjoy a meal at home and might be looking for an entertainment complement to their dining experience.”

Pizza Hut is the nation’s top pizza seller. In 2009, the company earned more than $5 billion, vs. No. 2 pizza brand, Domino’s, which sold $3 billion worth of pies.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more