News

2004 In Demand, Multichannel News and CTAM Present: The Digital and Broadband Case Study Competition

3/07/2004 7:00 PM Eastern

MSO/Distributor High Speed

Plugging Into Gen Xbox

1ST PLACE WINNER: Cox Communications

ENTRY: Cox Xbox Live Online Promotion

PERSONNEL: John Webster, product marketing manager

Cox Communications used an Xbox live promotion to help increase high-speed data sales during the 2003 holiday sales season.

The MSO went into the market with an offer for consumers to sign up for Cox HSI and receive a free Xbox live kit and a free game, either MechAssault or Ghost Recon, a combined value of $100.

Xbox live is the online gaming service from Microsoft, tied to its Xbox gaming system. The starter kit includes a one-year subscription to Xbox live, an Xbox communicator, and plugs into the Xbox controller, which facilitates voice communication between players. Customers could go to www.cox.com/gaming/xbox
to sign up.

Cox also created TV and radio spots to promote Xbox live. And a newsletter went out to 1.8 million Xbox owners.

Cox said the promotion generated 1,899 new HSI subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2003, about double what the cable operator expected for that promotion. Cox said the acquisition cost per subscriber was 43% lower than other channels of distribution.

HSI That Doesn't Cost a Bundle

2ND PLACE WINNER: Cox Communications, Omaha

ENTRY: CHSI Plus Bundle Campaign

PERSONNEL: Jessica Boulay, residential marketing manager

Cox Communications successfully increased HSI penetration in Omaha with a bundled product campaign that offered two free months of service.

The MSO believed it could increase HSI sales at full price when combined with a digital-cable or telephony offer that would ultimately increase the two- and three-package bundle with consumers.

The MSO offered two months free service to Cox Digital Cable or Cox Digital Telephone when a customer added Cox HSI at the full price. Targeted mail was sent to homes in the promotion.

The campaign resulted in 129 totally new HSI subscribers, all taking HSI, plus at least one other product. Of those, 124 took three or more products. Among the targeted segments of current subscribers, 165 basic and data subscribers added digital; 383 digital and phone subscribers added data; and 51 digital and data subscribers added phone service.

MSO — On Demand

Mall Tour Spikes On-Demand Use

1ST PLACE WINNER: Comcast

ENTRY: VOD Launch/Mall Tour Project

PERSONNEL: Tricia Babin, marketing strategy manager

Comcast's Mall Tour helped its New England systems boost weekly order rates for VOD content 36% in the fall of 2003.

The on-demand service launched in May, and although usage climbed since then, Comcast wanted to jumpstart usage by spurring more consumers to get their hands on VOD.

The answer was a seven-mall tour that kicked off Oct. 31 and continued through Dec. 22. Comcast recreated a living-room experience at each mall, with a projection TV screen that allowed passersby to see on-demand promos. The virtual living room contained a large-screen plasma TV, which ran a small loop tape about the benefits of on-demand. Visitors could take a remote control and try the service, with the VOD experience simulated through software.

Each demonstration was hosted by two Comcast reps, who also answered questions and took leads on digital set-top orders. Visitors received a microwave popcorn bag and a free movie on-demand coupon.

Usage began spiking immediately. While the system averaged 100,000 orders per week throughout the summer, usage jumped to 300,000 by mid October, when the media campaign kicked in, and to more than 600,000 per week by Dec. 1, peaking at over one million during the Christmas holiday period.

Comcast said VOD usage among digital subscribers rose from 25% to 51% after the Mall Tour. Overall usage jumped 104% after the Mall Tour began, with the average order rate jumping from 3.6 to 4.9 programs per week, according to the cable operator. In the 15,523 Mall Tour presentations, 591 sales leads were captured, Comcast said.

Altrio Rolls Out SVOD Net by Net

2ND PLACE WINNER: Altrio Communications

ENTRY: Using SVOD to Drive Usage and Higher ROIs

PERSONNEL: Bill Rivas, vice president, marketing

Altrio built a marketing campaign around SVOD services from HBO, Starz, Home and Living on Demand (Scripps) and Mag Rack that increased SVOD and overall VOD usage resulting in an average revenue per month increase of $15 per month per home.

Altrio had launched VOD in 2002, but found that unique household VOD usage averaged only 3% through October 2002 and buy-rates were 2.1 titles per month. To increase usage, in staggered trials, Altrio launched SVOD from Starz (Oct. '02), HBO (August '03), Mag Rack (Sept. 03), and the Scripps services (Oct. '03), each on its own virtual channel. Marketing tactics included free trials, cross channel spots, direct mail and telemarketing.

By November 2003, the company said combined VOD and SVOD usage had climbed from 3% to 75%. The average combined number of viewed titles jumped from 2 to 12 per month per home. Paid VOD purchases jumped from 3% to 7.75%, with the average number of titles bought per home increasing to 2.6 per month.

Digital penetration increased from 69% to 82.5%; Starz subscribers increased from 32% of homes to 55%; and HBO increased from 48% to 54%. Altrio said Home and Living On Demand reached 5% penetration within two months of launch.

MSO — Digital

Adding 'Value' to Grouped Services

1ST PLACE WINNER: Cox Communications, Omaha

ENTRY: Extended Family

PERSONNEL: Jessica Boulay, residential marketing manager

Cox Communications sought to simplify its bundled service package in Omaha by running promotions that hit on one key point, such as free HBO for new subscribers of bundled services.

The system offers a voice, video and data bundle as well as a video/phone or video/data bundle. Each carries an added value proposition of free HBO or 100 free long-distance minutes with the three-product bundle or $5 off a premium network or reduced phone rates for the two-product bundle.

In the "Extended Family" campaign, Cox created a generic TV/radio spot about the promotion. Targeted direct mail was sent along with a "last-chance" postcard.

The campaign produced 4,000 new connects that included digital, and 2,200 new connects that included either HSI or phone service. Churn also was reduced.

From January through July 2003, basic churn averaged 2.5%, but dropped to 2.4% in the August to December period, after the campaign hit. Over the same time period, digital churn dropped from 4.63% to 4.10%; data churn dropped from 3.4% to 2.7%; and phone churn dropped from 3.4% to 2.8%.

MSO — HDTV

Buckeye's HD Tailgate Party

1ST PLACE WINNER: Buckeye Cablevision

ENTRY: HDTV Launch Event

PERSONNEL: Florence Buchanan, vice president of marketing

Buckeye Cablevision launched HDTV by holding a launch party at an event hall coinciding with an ESPN Sunday night NFL game.

The Toledo, Ohio, system was preparing for a fall 2003 launch of HDTV, having secured carriage deals with ESPN, Discovery, HD Net, HD Net movies and the local CBS and Fox affiliate.

The system wanted to reach out to HDTV set owners, with a promotion that would, at the same time, explain high-definition programming to the masses.

Buckeye settled on an HD TailGate party on Nov. 9, 2003, built around the Baltimore Ravens-St. Louis Rams game on ESPN that night. Buckeye rented The Pinnacle, an event hall, and invited community VIPs; subscribers who had expressed an interest in HDTV; subscribers of Buckeye's highest level of service; and customers who had purchased PPV sports packages in the past.

In the final days leading up to the event, Buckeye also ran newspaper ads, inviting the public as well as its customers.

Buckeye also had a retail partner lined up to demonstrated HDTV service at the hall. Refreshments were served and guests could meander throughout the room and watch one of eight TVs set up for HD.

The retailer and Buckeye showcased various offers and raffled off a 34-inch HDTV set. The first 400 HDTV customers, for instance, received a free Kameleon remote.

The launch party occurred immediately following the closing of an HDTV beta test, which produced 237 HDTV customers. In the first month after the kickoff event and accompanying retail promotion, the system moved up to 301 subscribers and by year end the figure was 437, an 84% increase over the Nov. 9 number.

Touting Benefits of HD over DBS

2ND PLACE WINNER: Cox Communications, Omaha

ENTRY: HDTV Launch Campaign

PERSONNEL: Jessica Boulay, residential marketing manager

Cox switched from a sale to a lease program for HDTV service in Omaha on Oct. 1, 2003, and generated 1,852 connects in the fourth quarter, far ahead of its budget of 700 connects.

In addition to relaunching HDTV with the new service model, Cox wanted to drive digital nonsubscribers, and push HDTV sales in the critical holiday selling season.

Cox created a TV spot showcasing cable's HDTV advantage over DBS. The system also held a retail event.

In October alone, Cox generated 211 new subscribers and 741 total HDTV connects. Over the three months, the campaign produced 319 new subscribers, 377 digital upgrades and 1,852 HDTV connects.

Programmer/Supplier — High Speed

OLN's Bullish on Outdoor Series

1ST PLACE WINNER: Outdoor Life Network

ENTRY: OLN's PBR Betting Bucks and Bucking Bulls Promotion

PERSONNEL: Alecia Heidecker, affiliate marketing manager; Wendy McCoy, vice president, marketing; Becky Ruthven, senior vice president, affiliate sales

The Outdoor Life Network generated more than $4 million in media value with a promotion for its PBR: Professional Bull Riders program.

OLN set out to not only promote this highly rated series but to showcase cable operators' high-speed plant.

The promotion included taggable spots, downloadable artwork and photos, an online signup form, cable system marketing manager prizes and a consumer sweepstakes trip for to the PBR finals in Las Vegas. In addition, Cox's Las Vegas system did a gift-with-purchase campaign tied to HSD signups (a "PBR" CD).

Ninety-three systems participated in the promotion covering 35 million subscribers and an estimated media value of $4.4 million.

Protocall Pushes Cable-Modem Sales

2ND PLACE WINNER: Protocall Communications

ENTRY: Protocall Communications

PERSONNEL: Maurice Barboza, President, Oviedo Communications; Scott Kleinknecht, CEO, Protocall

Protocall Communications, an outbound telemarketing firm, helped an unnamed MSO improved close rates on cable-modem sales.

From April 4 through July 20, 2003, Protocall used Internet banner advertising and outbound telemarketing in four cable systems to develop a list of HSI sales leads. The Internet ads were created by Netads.com, and promised two months of free service.

Netads.com sent sales leads to Protocall twice a day. Within 12 hours, Protocall would call back, typically between 6 and 9 p.m.

Of the 1,106 leads that came in, Protocall closed 60%, or 664 sales, far surpassing the MSO's in-house close rate of 15%. Protocall also said the MSO's cost per sale was $15. After the first two months of free service, Protocall said 98% of the accounts remained "solid." Protocall said the unnamed MSO now planned to rollout the service nationwide in 2004.

Programmer/Supplier — On Demand

MOD Steamrolls Over VHS

1ST PLACE WINNER: In Demand

ENTRY: In Demand/Cox San Diego MOD Relaunch Campaign

PERSONNEL: James Dettman, vice president, affiliate marketing

In Demand helped Cox Communications relaunch movies on demand in May 2003 in a campaign that generated a 70% average increase in VOD buys from May through the end of December last year.

Cox San Diego had launched MOD in early 2002. By late 2002/early 2003 the system was averaging 45,000-plus buys a month, about a 20% to 25% buy-rate per month. While VOD awareness was high at 67%, only 25% of subscribers had tried the service, and MOD buys barely surpassed NVOD buys (55-45). Cox felt subscribers wouldn't understand MOD until they used the service.

In the relaunch campaign, Cox focused on these elements: a saturation media campaign, a high-profile promotion that would drive a risk-free trial, advertising of strong movie titles, positioning MOD as a video store alternative, and focus on MOD's 998 channel number.

The campaign's goal was to increase awareness to 75%, generate trials among 30% of digital subscribers, increase MOD buys by 25%, and to improve the MOD to NVOD ration to 65-35.

Campaign tactics included a "Why Rent? Go to Channel 998" call to action, a media campaign valued at $300,000 and a graphical user interface sweepstakes. On-demand ads ran on broadcast TV, cross-channel, radio, newspapers and on seven mobile billboard trucks. Digital subscribers also received e-mails and direct-mail promotions.

Cox also held a publicity stunt with a local radio-station partner, in which a steamroller "rolled" over VHS tapes. The stunt was covered by several local TV stations and made their newscasts.

For the sweepstakes, subscribers who ordered a free movie trailer or MOD tutorial were automatically entered to win a 65-inch HDTV.

The campaign exceeded expectations. MOD awareness shot up to 85%. There were 778,000 entries in the sweepstakes, with 46% of Cox's 213,000 digital homes entered at least once. Buy-rates from May through August 2003 increased 80% over the previous six-month average. In Demand and Cox said they have realized more than $193,000 in incremental net revenue due to the campaign, with breakeven being achieved by mid-September.

Eminen Helps Showcase On Demand

2ND PLACE WINNER: Universal Studios

ENTRY: 8 Mile Shady Showcase

PERSONNEL: Stacy Melle, director, worldwide PPV marketing

An 8 Mile Shady Showcase promotion by Universal Pictures last summer produced 185,242 orders for a 12.4% view rate on Comcast cable systems.

The promotion helped Universal sell the movie 8 Mile plus music from its sister company, while Comcast benefited from increased PPV and VOD buys for the film as well as increased usage of music videos on its free on-demand service.

The promotion, which included an "8 Mile Shady Showcase," a 40-minute show featuring music videos as well as interviews with Universal label rapper Eminem, appeared on Comcast's FOD service starting May 2; the promos also publicized the movie 8 Mile. Comcast reports 14% of all its FOD views goes to its music-video subsection.

The showcase allowed Universal to promote other artists from its record division in the film, including 50 Cent, Obie Trice and D12.

The campaign also included a sweepstakes promotion, with the grand prize a trip to the set of Eminem's next music-video shoot. Secondary prizes included 50 Cent DVDs.

More than 300 cross-channel spots ran across 11 cable networks, promoting both the showcase the movie premiere.

The results were stellar. Universal said 8 Mile
was the number two title in the January-August time frame, according to In Demand, trailing a movie that generated twice as much box-office revenue that also only had a 30-day window.

Comcast said the film was the most popular VOD movie in its history, recording 57,000 buys through July.

Universal created ShadyShowcase 2, a second music-video package, which premiered July 1 and generated 94,423 orders for a 6.3% view rate.

Universal said 19.2% of consumers who ordered 8 Mile viewed Shady Showcase 1, and 8.1% of consumers who viewed the Showcase turned around to order the movie. Universal also said the Showcase generated exposure for the artists and that translated into higher record sales.

Programmer/Supplier — Digital

Upgrades Increase Revenue, Reduce Costs

1ST PLACE WINNER: Cauldron Solutions

ENTRY: Cablevision DSTB and Web Unified Service Upgrade

PERSONNEL: Steve Salzinger, president, Cauldron Solutions; Patrick Donoghue, vice president, ITV development and operations, Cablevision; Dermot McCormick, vice president, retail websites, Cablevision

Cauldron Solutions designed an interactive set-top software program that allowed Cablevision Systems Corp. digital subscribers to upgrade and change levels of service using their remote control.

Once the software was setup, interactive Optimum subscribers were able to subscribe to new digital services, sports packages and SVOD services through either Cablevision's web site or a set-top box.

Cauldron developed the architecture, created specific login and authentification software and developed a workflow management system. The service was launched to Cablevision's 175,000 Sony customers on Oct. 1. Both Sony and Scientific-Atlanta Inc. customers could do upgrades over the Internet.

In the first month, Sony customers ordered 6,343 premium services, SVOD or sports packages, for a 3.6% response rate. Playboy, alone, generated a 0.5% response rate. Over the web, Scientific-Atlanta customers completed 221 orders.

Not only did the instant upgrades increase revenue, it reduced costs, since each phone call order for a service cost $7.50. Cauldron said Cablevision estimates it's saved $50,000 per month, on calls alone, while generating $132,000 in additional revenue.

Hispanic Digi-Tiers Forge Ahead

2ND PLACE WINNER: Schramm Sports and Entertainment

ENTRY: Lo Hicimos

PERSONNEL: Joe Schramm, president

Schramm Sports and Entertainment helped Comcast's Bay Area system increase penetration and upgrades within its newly launched Spanish-language tiers in 2003 with a comprehensive marketing campaign.

Comcast launched a base $19.95 digital tier of Spanish programming, CableLatino de Comcast, in mid-2003, then added two additional packages, CableLatino Optimo and CableLatino Completo.

The new tiers were offered "barrier-free," meaning no install fee, no upfront costs and no contracts.

Schramm devised a campaign that included billboards, print advertising, direct mail, radio, TV and a sweepstakes to win tickets to a Mexican national soccer team match at PacBell Park. Schramm also developed a series of one-on-one marketing venues, through radio remotes and face-to-face sales contacts as supermarkets, soccer events and Hispanic street fairs.

The campaign increased the number of subscribers in the Hispanic digi-packages by 41%. Upgrades to Optimo and Completo increased by 65%. Some 35% of Optimo and Completo subscribers were newly acquired subscribers to Comcast. Some 2,000 sweepstakes entries were received and 46% were "qualified" leads.

Programmer/Supplier — HDTV

HD Educator: TV Guide

1ST PLACE WINNER: TV Guide

ENTRY: TV Guide's HD101

PERSONNEL: Amy Bates, senior vice president, affiliate marketing

TV Guide won the programmer/supplier category for its HD101 education campaign, responding to MSO concerns about selling HDTV and consumer confusion in the marketplace. The campaign was designed to answer four questions: What is HDTV? How do you get it? What does it cost? What can I see?

TV Guide offered the turnkey campaign to affiliates free of charge. The campaign featured four, two-minute segments addressing each of the four main HDTV questions. The segments were hosted by TV Guide Channel on air talent. Four corresponding 30-second spots also were sent to affiliates for local tagging.

TV Guide also introduced an HD indicator button on its scrolling guide, to alert viewers that a program was being transmitted in HDTV by the local cable operators. The channel also provided a custom grid summary of HD programs, an HD graphic grid banner and tune-in marketing materials.

The package was launched in 211 systems representing 8.1 million subscribers. Customized versions were created for Comcast, Cox, Charter, Insight, Adelphia, Time Warner and MediaCom.

Pioneer Teams with TWC for HD

2ND PLACE WINNER: Pioneer Electronics

ENTRY: Big Picture, Big Promotion, Big Rewards

PERSONNEL: Dan Ward, director of marketing

Pioneer teamed with Time Warner Cable to increase awareness and demand for HDTV during the 2003 holiday season, while selling TWC's new HDTV subscription tier.

The campaign included an offer that any consumer buying a Pioneer or Pioneer Elite HDTV projection of PureVision plasma TV from a participating authorized dealer and subscribing to TWC's HD Cable service would get six month's free digital-cable service and a $500 rebate from Pioneer.

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