ESPN Offers Ad Time for PPV

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In an effort to increase the value of its pay-per-view programming to cable operators, ESPN is offering systems local ad inventory within all of the network’s event and out-of-market sports packages.

The offer affords operators three minutes an hour to insert local advertising in each game from ESPN’s college basketball, college football, college baseball out-of-market packages, as well as in its K-1 martial arts events, ESPN vice president of affiliate ad sales and marketing Jeff Siegel said.

ESPN will prompt systems to start running the ads via cuetones embedded in each PPV telecast.

OLD SPICE IS IN

The sports network also is placing national ads throughout the games. Currently it has an exclusive deal with Procter & Gamble Co.’s Old Spice for its college football package, but Siegel would not reveal how much revenue it has generated from the sponsorship. Ads will run three times during the game.

ESPN’s local ad-time offer is an outgrowth of its move earlier this year to handle all distribution and marketing of its PPV and out-of-market sports package content.

According to Siegel, it was virtually impossible for the sports network to offer such inventory when it licensed content to PPV purveyors like In Demand LLC and TVN Entertainment Corp.

Operators can either sell the ad time on a standalone basis, or offer it as a value-added service for companies already advertising locally on ESPN’s various basic-cable networks.

“Cable operators are interested in offering advertisers something different than the broadcasters can give them, and this is something they can own and be apart of,” Siegel said.

“It’s a way to expand the amount of local inventory that we’re giving to affiliates and a way to give inventory that’s compelling for loyal viewers.”

'FULL COURT’ AWAITED

Siegel said ESPN has already teamed with Comcast Corp. to offer ad time in various systems, and said other operators have expressed interest in selling ad time beginning in November for the start of ESPN’s Full Court college basketball package.

While PPV content is not rated, he said purchasers are more likely to watch the event in its entirety, which maximizes viewer exposure for the commercials.

“People are paying for it so they tend to be more loyal viewers,” Siegel said.

“You know exactly who’s watching and how many people bought the product.”

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