Cox Builds Buzz in New England

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Gearing up for the launch of on-demand service last November, Cox Communications Inc.'s New England set the stage for a varied product rollout — movies, followed subscription on demand a month later and free content 60 days after that.

MSO executives believed that in order to have a successful launch, the robust product offering needed to be supplemented by a high degree of customer education and awareness marketing.

In essence, the Cox contingent felt that if customers saw and felt the on-demand service, they would buy and keep it, converting former pay-per-view customers to the new service in the process.

That effort, extending through May of this year and led by marketing manager Gina Gentilli, took first-place honors in the overall awareness category in CTAM's 2005 On Demand Case Study Competition.

Prior to launch, Cox rolled out its on-demand platform through a six-week beta trial in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Tactics there included phone calls explaining the service, local newspapers ads and targeted letters to extant digital customers.

After testing the network and building buzz, Cox launched Entertainment on Demand in staggered stages. Messages promulgated info about “choice, convenience and control,” “just go to Channel 1!” and that the service was “exclusive to cable; you can't get it on Satellite!”

In addition to the aforementioned tactics deployed in the test markets, Cox added cross-channel spots, print and electronic newsletters, Web ads, letters, customer coupons and customer giveaway components to drum up interest and education.

From these and other initiatives, Cox realized an 80% jump from both pay-per-view and on-demand revenue between January and April, compared with 2004.

In terms of customer growth, Cox reported a 42% increase in its digital net gains over the same period, an uptick largely attributed to the on-demand rollout.

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