DirecTV, NFL Network Going Deep

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DirecTV and NFL Network are planning a major marketing blitz for Time Warner Cable subscribers.

The direct-broadcast satellite service will team up with the 41 million-subscriber network to run a multimedia, multimillion-dollar ad campaign in four Time Warner and Comcast markets not carrying the National Football League’s cable service.

The NFL Network ad blitz is part of an eight-market DirecTV acquisition campaign launched this past August targeted at siphoning subscribers in systems recently consolidated by Time Warner and Comcast.

DirecTV’s cable-consolidation campaign -- which offers $150 rebates to subscribers ditching cable -- has already yielded double-digit subscriber-increase percentages, according to vice president of acquisition marketing Brad Bentley.

Beginning Thursday, DirecTV and NFL Network will run radio ads and place ad inserts in major newspapers within the Buffalo, N.Y.; Dallas; Cleveland; and Los Angeles markets touting the satellite company’s carriage of the channel, which includes the network’s eight-game Thursday and Saturday package.

Time Warner has yet to reach a carriage deal for NFL Network, saying that it wants to carry the service on a sports tier. NFL Network officials are demanding carriage on highly penetrated analog-basic tiers.

“We’re just letting customers know that they do have a choice and we do carry the NFL Network,” Bentley said. “They’re not at the mercy of the cable company.”

NFL Network’s message will be combined with DirecTV’s overall acquisition campaign that has been running in those markets since August. That campaign also includes the Washington, D.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Minneapolis markets.

“We’ve seen a lot of movement and, now, they have added reason to switch because they’re losing channels like NFL Network,” Bentley said. “Historically, these transitions have not gone smoothly and work to our advantage, so we hope to continue to see good growth momentum.”

Bentley would not speculate on whether operators will secure deals for NFL Network’s Thursday/Saturday package before the first game Thanksgiving night.

NFL Network spokesman Seth Palansky said the network expects to get good traction from the campaigns. “Ultimately, we prefer to have deals with cable operators, but our obligation is to our fans,” he added.

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