A Cross-Platform Scare

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Call it the assault of the three-platform monster. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of “Monsterfest,” AMC will supplement its Halloween programming stunt with new tentacles: a first-ever broadband push and a second major foray into video on demand.

Starting next month, the basic-cable movie service will scare up 16 titles, including An American Werewolf in London, Blood of Dracula and Day of the Dead, which cable operators can run on broadband and on-demand platforms. AMC will also provide distributors with interactive horror movie trivia games, downloadable ring tones and wallpaper for cell phones.

All that content, available free to affiliates, comes on top of the 240 hours of monster-themed programming AMC will present on the linear channel, beginning Oct. 23.

In 2005, AMC officials said Monsterfest fare raised ratings for a fifth consecutive year. It generated a 13% gain to a 0.7 household rating, gauged on a total-day basis.

Among the titles screening on AMC next month: Frankenstein, The Exorcist and Halloween.

“Monsterfest is one of our most-popular, most-viewed programming stunts,” said Rainbow Entertainment Services president Ed Carroll. “With the 10th anniversary, we thought it was the right to expand it and give viewers more options. This multiplatform approach can help operators drive their high-speed modems and digital-cable boxes for on-demand.”

At press time, Cox Communications Inc. and Charter Communications had committed to the cross-platform gambit. Rainbow Media senior vice president of affiliate marketing Todd Green expects many other operators, including parent Cablevision Systems Corp., to come on board to some degree.

Cablevision “is very interested in the Horror IQ trivia game,” Green said. “I think we’re going to get a lot of traction there.”

Over the last year, Rainbow has established a number of turnkey projects. “Bridezilla and the Bundle” leveraged the WE brand against multi-service offerings, while “IFC’s Upsell Promotion” helped the distributor to spur digital upgrades. Breaking for the first time into the ranks of on-demand programmers, AMC’s “Broken Trail on Demand” helped Comcast Corp. increase its local on-demand ad sales.

Cox is overlaying the Monsterfest initiative against its “network of the month” promotion, in which a channel is highlighted via cross-channel spots as a means to help drive acquisition of Cox.net, its high-speed Internet service. Next month, AMC will be in that spotlight for the third time with Monsterfest.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity to cross-promote the HSI offer across the three platforms, which should build greater exposure by pushing the viewers between the different screens,” Cox video marketing manager Mary Busby said.

Cox director of video product marketing Nancy Heffernan said Cox will run a few hundred cross-channel spots, trumpeting the high-speed data offer and Monsterfest across its footprint, with a number of local markets buttressing that schedule of promos.

Cox will also be able to entice new modem subscribers via an acquisition gift offer: a free year’s subscription to Entertainment Weekly, one of several premiums AMC facilitated and offered. AMC also supplied glow-in-the dark trick-or-treat bags, emblazoned with safety tips, for Cox to distribute to Boys & Girls Clubs.

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