Feeding the Monster Promo Machine

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Now in its second year with an ad-sales component, AMC's annual "Monsterfest" promotion/programming stunt has scared up affiliate participation among 84 systems representing some 30 million subscribers.

That compares with systems representing about 10 million subs for the 2002 edition, when AMC first moved fully into the ad sales business.

Ad Staple

"AMC started selling ads on Oct. 1, so Monsterfest was one of our first major initiatives," said Kim Martin, executive vice president, distribution and affiliate marketing at AMC Networks. "It underlines the strength of this promotion and the interest MSOs have in inserting local ads on AMC." She notes that systems reaching some 48 million homes around the country are now inserting the network, which counts 84 million households in total.

Martin said that Halloween now ranks only behind Christmas in terms of consumer holiday spending, so "prospective ad categories cut across a wide swatch; there are lots of opportunities." AMC has incented affiliates by giving each system an XM Satellite Radio receiver — replete with portable audio system, vehicle adaptor kit and one year free of XM satellite service — for running 200 Monsterfest tune-in spots across all dayparts from Oct. 19 through Oct. 31.

On the marketing side, Monsterfest with an eye toward driving high-speed services, has attracted over 1,000 affiliates representing 32.5 million subscribers nationally, according to Martin.

AMC's Web site, amctv.com, is featuring five Web-exclusive "Short Screamers," monster-themed games, an interactive tour of haunted Hollywood locations, and information about the festival's films.

Participating affiliates — Adelphia Communications, Cable One, Cablevision Systems Corp., Charter Communications, Mediacom Communications and Time Warner Cable on a local level, and Cox Communications and Comcast Corp., nationally — have committed to running Monsterfest cross-channel spots 250 times between Oct. 19 and Halloween. AMC is handing out $200 American Express gift cards to participating systems as a discretionary incentive.

This year's Monsterfest also includes a national consumer sweepstakes. Contestants can enter at amctv.com to play a bingo-type movie game in which they hope to select seven of 42 film images in the right combination, which will be announced on Halloween between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The prize: $1 million. There are also daily prizes for five-day-four-night trips for two to New Orleans.

4 Hours A Night

In its seventh iteration overall, this year's Monsterfest will feature four hours of programming nightly Oct. 26 through Halloween. In addition to the aforementioned "Screamers," shorts from amateur filmmakers, hosted by director/author Clive Barker, the frightening fare includes the TV premiere of Piñata: Survival Island, starring Jaime Pressley.

"We used to air a Monsterfest feature every night for two weeks. We've tightened up the window and concentrated the programming to the period when people are really thinking about Halloween," said Martin, who added that affiliates interested in "Monsterfest 2004" need to make their commitments by the end of July.

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