Comcast Backs Regionals With Promo Clout

10/12/2003 8:00 PM Eastern

Comcast Corp. is turning up the branding heat, having launched a pair of campaigns behind regional programming services this month.

With the tagline "Smart TV," the top U.S. MSO is raising the profile for CN8: The Comcast Network, which reaches 6.2 million homes from Baltimore to Boston.

Comcast also bowed a campaign touting its ties to New England Cable News.

Smart TV aims to introduce the faces behind the journalists and original content on CN8, which airs a mix of regional news, entertainment, interactive fare and high-school sports.

CN8 on Oct. 1 began running seven 30-second image shots touting shows and anchors such as Nitebeat
(with Barry Nolan), Lou Tilley's Sports Connection
and It's Your Call With Lynn Doyle, a newsmaker chat series, according to Mike Doyle, the network's founder and president of Comcast Cable's Eastern division.

The spots with the journalists were shot unscripted, to emphasize their personalities and what they bring to viewers.

"A lot of TV lacks the intelligence, the in-depth analysis that can be found on CN8," Doyle said. "We've taken the high road here and think Smart TV really speaks to the network."

CN8 benefits from "aggressive cross-channel exposure in fixed positions" across many of Comcast's 36 insertable networks. Doyle called the campaign a Comcast priority: Unsold ad units (often used to promote such key services as high-speed data) have been assigned to CN8 for extra promos.

Up in New England, Comcast's 50% ownership of NECN, in 2.7 million homes, is being heralded to viewers at the start of each of the network's newscasts, as well as through an on-air promotional efforts. Hearst Corp. is NECN's co-owner.

NECN president Philip Balboni said that at the open of all network newscasts, viewers can see and hear the words, "NECN: A Comcast News Network."

The key visual — here and on 10-second promos that pop up throughout the day — is an animated "C" that swirls from Comcast to NECN.

"Comcast has a lot of momentum in New England given its launch of HDTV and VOD, and the completion of upgrades" initiated by AT&T Broadband before it sold out to Comcast last November, Balboni said. "This speaks powerfully to the synergistic relationship NECN has with Comcast."

Synergies will come into play next July, when the networks plan to combine resources and operations to provide in-depth coverage of the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Boston's Fleet Center.

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