ESPN Gears Up For Fall Promo

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With the fall retail season approaching, ESPN is teaming up with some major MSOs and chain stores to market cable HDTV programming packages and ESPNHD.

The sports network kicked off a promotion with Time Warner Cable and Circuit City Stores Inc. last month, and in November it will begin a two-month offer with Cox Communications Inc. through which the companies will dole out ESPN gifts and coupons to cable subscribers that order an HDTV programming package and set-top box.

“The timing couldn’t be any better for us and I believe the retail partners,” said David Preschlack, ESPN vice president of national accounts, affiliate sales and marketing.

Fall is not only a good season for selling HD sets, but it’s also when ESPNHD will run some of its top live sports coverage, including National Football League games, college football and the Major League Baseball playoffs, according to Preschlack.

ESPN and Cox will run a promotion in November and December to lure new HD customers with the promise of gifts from ESPN, including coupons for keychains, hats and T-shirts, plus 10% off of merchandise at Through the “Cox ESPN Football Playbook” promotion, ESPN will also offer the MSO’s subscribers an online tutorial that addresses frequently asked questions about HD, including background on the technology and how to order the enhanced programming.

While the Cox-ESPN promotion will run nationally, some systems will customize the campaign. In Las Vegas, Cox will place door hangers in neighborhoods that tout the Playbook promo and ESPN’s schedule of HD sporting events and studio shows.

Preschlack said ESPN is also increasing its retail marketing efforts with HD. Some of those relationships, such as the one with Circuit City, were developed by ESPN’s ad-sales unit, he said.

Last month, the network began running a promotion with Time Warner Cable and Circuit City stores located near the MSO’s cable systems.

On June 17, the ESPN Truck stopped by the parking lot at the Circuit City in Staten Island, N.Y., where workers handed out co-branded ESPN-Time Warner fliers touting HDTV programming.

Customers that bought a digital cable or HDTV programming package were also entered to win a trip on the road with the crew of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight program, in addition to a $50 gift certificate at ESPN Shop.

Preschlack said ESPN would like to run similar promotions with other cable operators. “We are using our brand extension as a means to drive awareness,” he said. “It’s online, radio, television; ESPN the Truck. We’re using all of our assets to help drive this promotion.”