Headline Revamp Opens Sponsor Opportunities

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New York— Cable News Network's new look for Headline News will also mean new ad-sales opportunities.

When Headline News introduces its new format on Aug. 6, CNN president of ad sales and marketing Larry Goodman said the biggest new sponsorship opportunity will come from advertisers' ability to insert their names and logos in the area of the television screen "below the fold."

Two weeks ago, Goodman illustrated the new look via a videotape demonstration that showcased the name and logo of Bank of America on the bottom half of the screen. B of A is the first advertiser to buy that availability for an unspecified run.

The client's name and logo will appear in Headline News' "Marketwatch," "Sportswatch," Weatherwatch" and "Travelwatch" updates, he said, followed by the sponsor's billboard and then its 30-second spot. The "anchor box" will be on the top half of the screen.

At press time, CNN had not finalized any other sponsorship deals for the revised Headline News format.

Bank of America's presence is part of a multiyear, multi-platform deal the financial-services giant signed last month with CNN parent AOL Time Warner Inc. B of A has committed more than $30 million for just the first year of a deal that extends beyond the CNN networks, company sources said.

"We're working on other deals as part of the news upfront," said Goodman. He pointed out that 70 percent of CNN's current advertisers also buy time on Headline News.

This Internet-like format creates a Headline News screen that resembles what users of future interactive-TV services might see, he said.

On the affiliate side, Headline News offers three minutes per hour for local ad sales — two at the top of the hour and one at the bottom. Addressing a concern raised by operators during the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's local-sales conference last June, a Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. spokesman said there are "no changes planned" in that arrangement.

CNN has also started to negotiate news upfront deals, including those for the reworked Headline News. However, it does not participate in the news upfront that follows the primetime upfront, Goodman explained, since the broadcast-television networks' news programs — particularly those in the early morning — attract audiences that are heavily female and aren't upscale.

CNN tends to negotiate individual-client commitments rather than agency-wide deals, he added, indicating that the number of clients is "in the double-digits."

However, Goodman said, "The majority of the top 20 [broadcast networks' news] clients, we don't do business with."

Unlike the broadcast networks, CNN and Headline News skew toward men, especially males aged 25 to 54. Headline News' audience is 60 percent male and heavily upscale, making it an ideal non-sports vehicle for male-oriented brands, he said.

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