Family Yule Promo Rings Up $7M

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ABC Family has once again been spreading yuletide cheer through its annual affiliate marketing and ad-sales promotion, themed the "25 Days of Christmas."

The 250 or so affiliates and interconnects taking part in the ad-sales effort have rung up more than $7 million from local accounts thus far, according to ABC Cable Networks Group local ad sales director Ron Hebshie. That compares with $4.2 million last year.

Another 250 affiliates are taking part in marketing-only promotions reaching 23 million subscribers, according to senior vice president of affiliate marketing and local ad sales Todd Schoen. All told, systems reaching 70 million of the net's total 84 million subscribers have signed up for the Christmas effort.

Those promotions are linked to the network's monthlong programming stunt, now in its fifth year. The channel has scheduled 220 hours of yule-themed programming from Dec. 1 through Christmas (Dec. 25), about the same amount as a year ago.

The lineup includes: the premiere of the original cartoon special The Christmas Orange; a first-run holiday episode of State of Grace; the original movie Mr. St. Nick
starring Kelsey Grammer, which aired last month on ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney; and The Preacher's Wife, the Denzel Washington-Whitney Houston theatrical.

Animated returnees range from The Little Drummer Boy
to Rudolph's Shiny New Year.

Local ad-sales efforts tied to the promotion have "cut a pretty wide swath" across categories, said Hebshie. Aside from the always-active auto dealerships, more nontraditional buyers came on board, including a karate school in New York (through Time Warner CityCable) and clothing stores, booksellers and hospitals in other markets, he said.

Overall, Time Warner has doubled its 25 Days involvement on the ad-sales side, Hebshie said. Efforts will now reach about 7.5 million of its insertable subscribers.

In Chicago, AT&T Media Services signed U.S. Cellular at a premium, he said. Other affiliates elsewhere sold La-Z-Boy, Kroger, Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, Denny's and Subway outlets on the stunt.

Time Warner systems reaching 5 million homes will take part in marketing promotions, said ABC Family affiliate marketing director Jamia Bigalow. The other MSO most in the holiday mood: Adelphia Communications Corp., with systems reaching some 4.6 million subscribers.

A two-week ad-sales sweepstakes broke Nov. 25; the marketing contest is slated to begin on Dec. 9 and run through Dec. 22, Bigalow said. Aside from the national grand prize of $25,000 in cash, ABC Family is offering local cash prizes of $2,500 to winners of the ad-sales and marketing sweepstakes in more than 35 markets.