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A College Try for Viewers

2/17/2006 7:00 PM Eastern

Court TV and The History Channel, hoping to attract younger viewers, are teaming on a marketing and programming front with college student-targeted Zilo Network.

The 10 million-subscriber Zilo is airing library installments of History’s original series Modern Marvels, as well as fresh episodes of Major Misbehavior, a new reality series that debuted and was then dropped by Court in 2004. In return, the college-centric channel is aggressively promoting shows from both networks, according to Zilo Networks president and creative director Campbell McLaren.

The deals are helping build awareness for the five-year-old Zilo, which is competing with MTV Networks’s MTVU service for audience share among 18-to-24-year-old college students.

While Zilo has worked with NBC and Fox to develop specialty programming and promotional campaigns tied to such content as the Gravity Games and American Idol, respectively, the History deal marks the first time the college service is airing another network’s programming.

McLaren said Zilo was allowed to cherry-pick from about 100 Modern Marvels episodes to find the ones most likely to stimulate Zilo’s crowd: An installment on military torture and another on high-tech sex toys were among those selected.

Modern Marvels is a show that young college students would really go for,” McLaren said. “But we make sure we run a lot spots around the show to make sure that our viewers know about [History Channel].”

History is paying an unspecified fee to expose Modern Marvels episodes to Zilo’s viewers, and reach beyond its core male 25-to-54 target.

“The college student has been a relatively untapped demo for us, until recently,” said History senior vice president of marketing Mike Mohamad. “With Zilo, our goal is to pique the interest of the college students with appropriate programming — currently, episodes from our highly successful series Modern Marvels.”

As for Major Misbehavior, which depicts interactions and confrontations between campus police and students, it initially aired on Court TV, before the network pulled the plug because it skewed too young for its audience.

McLaren said the two parties worked out an agreement where Zilo in which air the shows while promoting Court’s primetime lineup.

“We looked at Zilo as a good partner because it allows us to tap into a younger demo, said Court TV senior vice president of marketing Mary Corigliano, noting its new action strip RED, airing weeknights at 8 p.m., has been the beneficiary of the promotional support.

McLaren said Zilo is talking to both cable and broadcast networks for similar program for promotion arrangements.

Zilo also is exploring other distribution opportunities including the streaming of its original and acquired programming via broadband.

“We’re looking for ways to stay in touch with the 23-, 24- and 25-year-old that graduates and moves off-campus,” McLaren said. “That might be part of the Internet provided content because there’s a certain amount of name recognition out there for people that went to school with Zilo.”

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