Cable operators often take a lot of flak for the negative
publicity that frequently seems to find the pay-per-view industry.
But every once in a while, PPV, through a local event or
movie promotion, can trigger a positive result beyond the bottom line.
Cox Cable of San Diego was able to reach some very
impressionable high-school students -- as well as teach them a little history -- through a
remarkable promotional tie-in with DreamWorks SKG for the movie Amistad.
As part of the promotion for the movie's PPV run last
month, several operators conducted discussions about the historical significance of the
film within their markets. One such event, at Abraham Lincoln Academy School in San Diego,
featured actress Debbie Allen, who was also the movie's co-producer.
She and the film's star, Djimon Hounsou, talked to
1,000 to 1,500 awestruck students not only about the film, but also about life. Allen
remarked that it took her 15 years to get the film produced. What started out as a talk
about the movie turned into an emotional experience that often brought tears and smiles to
the eyes of school administrators, students and even some Cox executives.
So important was Allen's and Hounsou's appearance
to the historically underperforming school that their one-hour-plus session was piped via
closed-circuit to every classroom in the building.
While Cox's efforts may have inspired some additional
buys for Amistad, it also provided the local touch that its national competitors,
such as DirecTv, can't imitate.
These teen-agers may not pay for cable today, but they
could very well be Cox's future subscribers, and they will remember that it was Cox
-- not DBS, and not the local telephone companies -- that awakened their minds one fall
Digital technology and video-on-demand will one day place
cable on the top of the entertainment industry's revenue chain. But until then,
operators should follow Cox's example and find more opportunities to create unique
and meaningful local promotions with PPV programmers.
In today's world, it may be their only competitive