ABC Family is well along in lining up affiliates to participate in the marketing and local ad-sales components of its two major promotions — "13 Nights of Halloween" and "25 Days of Christmas."
So far, about 130 affiliates reaching 50 million subscribers have signed on for the fifth iteration of the Halloween promotion, said ABC Cable Networks Group senior vice president of affiliate sales development Todd Schoen.
The system count is down somewhat from last fall, but the subscriber count is up by 2 million, indicating that some larger systems are aboard, he said.
More than 90 hours of Halloween-related programming will air from Oct. 19 through Oct. 31, he said. (That's down from the 125 hours that the former Fox Family Channel promoted a year ago, but about the same as two years ago.)
Two new titles
Two new hour-long titles in the mix will be Criss Angel Mindbreak, starring magician Criss Angel, on Oct. 20 at 9 p.m.; and Scariest Places on Earth: Woodchester Mansion Dare, a Linda Blair-hosted special set in England.
Those programs will be promoted via 22-inch-by-28-inch freestanding posters at various Simon Mall retail sites, as well as through tune-in ads on TV Guide's interactive-program guide.
At least 50 systems have generated an estimated $2.5 million in local ad revenues from the promotion, according to Schoen. That's up $200,000 from a week ago and up about $500,000 from a year ago, he added.
Since American Honda Motor Co. is the national sponsor of the "Unlock the Gates Sweepstakes," he said, many affiliates are lining up tie-in buys from local Honda dealerships, although systems are not locked into Honda alone.
Baskin-Robbins, Burger King Corp., Del Taco, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, Six Flags and Subway Restaurants are among the other major local sponsors.
On-air promotions for the sweepstakes are meant to drive consumers to the network's Web site for nightly random drawings. There will be 13 grand prizes — an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the network's "Scariest Party on Earth Weekend" aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.
There also will be a sweepstakes for MSOs — including AT&T Broadband, Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable — supported by local cross-channel spots and signage at participating retail outlets.
In addition, a local radio station promotion in key markets will be themed, "What are you afraid of?" A trip to that Queen Mary party will be the grand prize in each market.
The network will use some nontraditional methods to back the promotion, most notably decals placed on sidewalks outside costume shops and grocery stores in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta, as well as floor graphics in 1,300 grocery stores' candy and Halloween aisles in those same markets.
The "13 Nights" sales tally of $2.5 million equals the local take from last year's Christmas promotion, Schoen pointed out.
That yuletide affiliate promotion also is "very far along — about halfway to our goal," he said, although he did not divulge figures.
"We try to get both out there at the same time, often packaged as a joint holiday promotion," Schoen said. He projects that "25 Days" will surpass its year-ago $2.5 million level in local ad sales.