In November 2005, popular lifestyle guide Time Out magazine partnered with City On Demand (founded by former HBO executives Eric Levin and John Ovrutsky) to create video reviews of destinations and happenings in New York City. They also teamed up with Time Warner Cable, allowing the company’s New York and New Jersey cable subscribers to view the videos free of charge on-demand on channel 1112. In July 2006, the same content became available online, allowing viewers from all over the world to take advantage of the insider information.
As a disclaimer before each one declares, the videos are not paid endorsements of the products or locations. Rather, they are editorial reviews from some of Time Out New York’s (TONY) staff, from assistant editors all the way up to marketing directors, who host each video. The site is sponsored by short advertisements that play before and after most of the 3- to 6-minute videos. They are spread over several channels that match up with the magazine sections like Restaurants, Theater, Kids, and Gay & Lesbian. What makes TONY On Demand more helpful than many other internet nightlife directories is the magazine’s ability to get insider information and an unbiased review. Where Citysearch teems with disgruntled consumer reviewers who have been turned away at the door to their desired club or lounge, TONY gives instant access to the facility, the owners, the designers, and the chefs. Just check out the site’s look at Thai Privilege Spa, where it’s explained that the reason for the spa’s zen is due in part to the therapists’ daily group meditation. TONY On Demand also brings attention to establishments that are off the beaten path, like advocating Lasker Rink in upper Central Park and Kate Wollman Rink in Prospect Park over its more populous and expensive competitors.
The editors at TONY found a vegetarian dim sum house called, naturally, Vegetarian Dim Sum House. Inexpensive and relatively unknown, it’s the kind of restaurant that make sites like this worthwhile. Gabriella Gershenson, one of TimeOut’s Eat Out writers, recommends some of her preferred dishes like spinach dumplings and kiwi milk shakes.